RETURNING Taunton Titans back row Dan Lee has hailed the increased professionalism within the club as he looks to help the club make the step up to National 1.

Lee, who came through the Exeter Chiefs academy, captained the Titans in his previous stint at Hyde Park before spending four seasons in the Championship with Cornish Pirates.

Asked what tempted him back to Taunton, the Barnstaple-born forward said: "It was the professionalism of the outfit and the boys being an aspirational bunch.

"They want to kick on and move forwards as players to get up through the leagues. I had a good time at Pirates but the chance to come and play at a club like Taunton when they are on the up was the main factor.

"Yappy [Tony Yapp], Browner [Chris Brown] and Brooksy [Keith Brooking] have all been in decent set-ups before so they haven’t stood still."

Since Lee's departure, the Titans have put together a series of top five finishes without being able to make thelinto the promotion places.

Lee is one of three new signings to have played at a higher level - Jack Arnott and Sam Blanchet have also signed - and is optimistic ahead of the 2018/19 season.

"It’s a very good squad coming together," Lee said.

"If we can keep everyone fit, we should be right up there at the top end of the table.

"The boys have been notorious for hitting the ground running before Christmas.

"Hopefully we can add that bit extra to help them kick on again in the second half of the season."

With Championship experience under his belt, Lee is also well placed to judge the difference in standard.

"The main difference is the speed of the games and organisation," he said.

"In a professional environment you have a lot more time to go through things and get everyone on the same page.

"In terms of the physicality, it’s not that far away from it. It will be a tough league against some good players."

The Titans begin their campaign at home to Bournemouth on September 7 but, before that, begin a set of challenging friendlies at home to National 1 outfit Plymouth Albion on August 17

"They have an aspirational squad as well and are looking to get back into the Championship so it will be a great test for us," Lee said.

Head coach Tony Yapp is delighted to have secured Lee's signature and said: "Dan needs no introduction.

"The guys know him well and think a lot of him.

"He was excellent when he played for us last time – he’s older and more experienced, so will bring massive value back to us.

"He leads by example, which suits us, and it’s exciting to have players of his quality coming in to what is already a good squad."