Head coach Damien Whales insists the future is bright for Huntingdon – despite suffering the drop last Saturday.

Stags head coach Damien Whales.Stags head coach Damien Whales.

Stags' relegation from Midlands Division One East was confirmed following a 35-24 defeat at the hands of Paviors at The Racecourse.

But Whales revealed plans are already in place to ensure the club challenges for an immediate return to a level they have graced for five seasons.

"I genuinely do feel very positive about the future," said Whales. "We need to go through a rebuilding process and that will be easier to do in the league below.

"There has been an extremely positive response across the club and plans have been in place for several months to ensure we return to Midlands Division One East as soon as possible.

"We're not upset about being relegated and there's definitely no sense of injustice. The league table doesn't lie and our relegation is entirely fair.

"Of course it hurts, and a huge amount of soul-searching has been done, but hopefully the pain of going down will be offset by the pleasure of winning promotion in the near future.

"Circumstances have gone against during a season in which we have struggled through the loss of players and a huge amount of injuries.

"It has not been fun to lose the vast majority of our games, but everyone has stuck together. Attitudes and performances have improved immensely in recent weeks.

"The fact we were relegated last Saturday is certainly not a hammer blow. We have been prepared since the turn of the year and the important thing is that we have already started to move forward together."

Whales' men produced one of their best displays of a difficult campaign against Paviors. It featured a brace of Barnie West tries with Charlie Saunders also going over.

Second-bottom Stags make the short trip to Peterborough this Saturday for their penultimate fixture of the campaign - and they can also look forward to derby dates next term in Midlands Division Two East (South) when they be playing at the same level as St Ives.

The Bulls will play at that level for the first time after a terrific title-winning season in Midlands Division Three East (South).

"It will be fun to have a local derby again next season," added Whales. "And it doesn't get much more local than Huntingdon playing St Ives!

"We are well aware they will be keen to claim our scalp and we'll relish pitting our wits against them."