YORK RUFC welcome back a host of big guns as they bid to get their new campaign off to a winning start against Old Rishworthians in the first round of the Yorkshire Shield tomorrow.

Head coach Sean Bass has been boosted, as he plots promotion from Yorkshire One, by the return of some key performers ahead of the start of term.

Full-back Alex Nixon, centre Sam Arkle and Ricky Roberts have all come back to Shipton Road, while Bass has also moved to bring in back-rower Dave Robinson from National League side Billingham.

They are moves that leave the York chief in optimistic mood as they prepare to welcome the Yorkshire Two outfit to Clifton Park for the cup clash.

He said: "Dave is a great player and he is good to have around. He is a York lad and he lives close by. Alex is back and he is fit. He looks in good shape as does Sam, who has trained all summer after a year off.

"Ricky is back as well and they all feel like new signings. Promotion is the aim for us this year. As a coach, I can't see the point of doing the job if that is not the aim.

"It's going to be tough. We are a proud county and, wherever you go, everyone is going to want to get stuck into you. We got a good result last week when we beat Pocklington at home (in a friendly).

"We are looking forward to getting into Rishworthians. We don't know much about them. We will focus on what we can do, welcome them to York, and get a win."

Selby will be putting out as strong a side as possible as they continue their quest to get their hands on the Yorkshire Shield.

The Sandhill Laners entertain Hullensians in the opening round and, after being finalists twice in the last five years and falling narrowly in the last four to Scarborough last term, will look to win the prestigious trophy this time around.

Head coach Richard Nicholson said: "We take the Shield very seriously and we will put our strongest side out. We fell in the last four last year and we are desperate to go one further.

"We have a few missing players but, hopefully, we will have enough. We know from our season in Yorkshire Two that they are a really tough side and they have done very well to get into Yorkshire One.

"It will be a very tough game, no doubt."

Nicholson will be missing a number of players, including Sam Weller who is suffering from a neck injury, but welcomes to the club former colt Jack Guest and centre Pete Turner.

Malton and Norton are hoping to steer clear of injuries as they plot a return to North One East.

The Gannock-based outfit get under way with a Shield clash at Heath and are confident of challenging in the top half of the Yorkshire One table - if they can avoid the losses they have experienced over the past two seasons.

Malton were ultimately doomed to relegation at the end of the last term as they fought to balance a side which was changing week to week. The summer harvest means they will be light in the pack as go to Halifax for their first competitive outing of the season.

Bill Laidler, club spokesman, said: "We will be a lot stronger than last year when we were massacred with injuries. We will be strong this time. The league is the main target and this is viewed as an extra trial game.

"But we will take it seriously and, as far as the league is concerned, we will be looking at the top half of the table."

York RI also return to action at the weekend, the New Lane outfit hosting Marist in the opening round of the Yorkshire Silver Trophy. Pocklington have a preliminary round bye in the Yorkshire Cup.