The black-and-yellows had a tough start to this season, having lost their first few games and needing to find urgent improvements.
Unfortunately they then missed out on all of their remaining fixtures in November and December primarily due to Covid cases amongst opposition camps. While disappointing, Ray Smart’s young charges have continued to work hard behind the scenes, preparing for their return.
They start 2022 on the road, as they face Bury St Edmunds in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs, both of whom find themselves in mid-table in the division.
In naming his side for the game, Ray Smart has been able to call on the services of Brad Webb, who was a familiar face among the Vikings for several seasons before becoming a Guernsey Raiders regular. The big second row will form part of powerful Vikings engine room, with Tom Creed joining him in what is hoped will provide plenty of go-forward momentum.
The Vikings regular captain Matt Lomas is missing from the side as he is managing a shoulder injury so Mitch Smith will steer the ship on Saturday. He packs down in the back-row with his younger brother Jacob and Alex Lock.
University student Tom Rihoy is back in Guernsey for a few weeks and he slots at straight onto the bench, providing back-row cover.
Dale Rutledge is unavailable this week, so the versatile Tom Veillard comes in to the scrum-half jersey, partnering with fly-half Gearoid Lee. The pairing sees a return to their university days where the two players where regulars in the 9 and 10 shirts for Chichester, and now get the opportunity to renew that partnership.
Lucas Barker starts at inside-centre with Reece De Jersey outside him, while in the backfield Taylor Quate is at fullback for the first time season. Quate is a key player for the Vikings and they will be hoping to get the ball into his hands regularly on Saturday.
On the wings Kieran Creber starts with Joe Le Roux, whilst the very experienced Dave Davison and Cashel Cahill are in line to make their first appearances of the season from the bench.
This is a vital game for the Vikings, whilst Bury are expected to be a good side, they will want to start the new year with a win under the belts.
Vikings team – Paul, Mroch, MH Smith, Creed, Webb, M Smith, Lock, J Smith, Veillard, Lee, Creber, Barker, de Jersey, Le Roux, Quate. Replacements: Rihoy, Richie-Bandy, Harvey, Davison, Cahill.