Director of rugby Clive Griffiths had his players back at the start of June meaning they have had the best of 12 weeks to prepare for the new second-tier campaign.
And having finished seventh last season following second and fourth-place finishes the previous seasons, Griffiths’ men will be looking to mount another unlikely challenge for promotion.
“I think we’ll go into this season in as good a shape as anyone, but you don’t know until the league kicks-off,” said Hunter, whose side lost twice to Premiership opposition, latterly Newcastle Falcons last weekend.
“It’s been a long pre-season, but a good one. It’s been productive for me, I think it’s been a tough pre-season in relation to training and games and we’ve grown in each game and taken something from each one, which is the point.”
The trip to take on Pirates – many pundits’ tip to challenge big-spending London Irish and Ealing Trailfinders for the one promotion place back into the Premiership – may be a daunting one but it comes at a good time.
“Usually when you go down there it’s rainy and boggy, so it’ll be nice to go down in the good weather and see if we can play some rugby,” said Hunter.
Pirates coach Alan Paver said: “Welcoming Donny should see a match between two cracking sides, going head-to-head in what promises to be good conditions.
“They have quality players, are extremely well coached and with a settled squad it will make for an interesting and physical encounter.”