Financial restraints impeded Whitehaven’s progress in the 2018 season, although only failing on points differential to make the play-offs.

Some might argue that because of being put into special measures, and the shortage of playing options, coach Carl Forster’s achievements were as good, or even better, than the previous year.

Haven were a whisker away from a return to the Championship, but it was probably their efforts to get back at the first attempt – and the financial outlay involved – which caught up with them last season. There were grave concerns for the future of the club and a consortium attempt to take over caused much debate mid-season, but which in the end was not seen through.

The fact that the team did not make the play-offs might have been seen as a disappointment by some but essentially it was a brave effort by a threadbare squad in difficult circumstances.

When the decision was taken to reluctantly dispense with the services of Forster, and prioritise the establishment of a more local squad, the cynics were predicting a season of struggle for the Recreation Ground side. But the appointment of three new directors and the arrival of Gary Charlton as coach to put together a new, but competitive looking squad has galvanised the spirits of supporters.

Charlton , a proper rugby league man, did a very sound job at Workington Town; knows the League well and has behind him two excellent members of his coaching team in Jonty Gorley and Scott McAvoy.

Gorley has been well respected in Cumbrian rugby league circles for some time now and it was a surprise when he left Workington Town during the season.

His influence has been felt in some of the new players that Whitehaven have on board and the former hooker could turn out to be the best signing that Charlton has made so far for the club.

Completing the triumvirate, McAvoy is one of Whitehaven’s legends in the modern game, lacing up his boots again to play for the club after a series of injuries.

He, too, has been influential in attracting players to the club and as well as adding knowledge and insight to touchline consultations is also likely to be included in a few team selections.

If Charlton, Gorley and McAvoy look a dream team combination there’s also a new three-man input to the board room who have already brought fresh ideas and initiatives to the table with them.

Jason Ball, Andrew Canavan and Matthew Stephenson are part of a refreshed board looking to put the financial concerns of last season behind them.

The major close-season success of the board was to see the club out of special measures although prudent house-keeping must be the bed-rock on which the club goes forward. It does look, however, as though they will have a little more leeway than experienced last season.

Training, predictably under Charlo, has been hard but enjoyable and there would certainly be no fitness concerns about the squad for the pre-season programme.

There are no Bradfords or Yorks this coming season, so the automatic promotion place will have an open look about it.

Neighbours Workington Town will be well fancied after failing with two bites of the cherry last time round but Oldham, Doncaster and Hunslet will all fancy their chances, as well as an improving Newcastle Thunder.

Whitehaven will be happy to stay under the radar but are sure to be competitive and will surprise a lot of people who may have written them off.