Player-of-the-week McGann has an influential presence

CIARAN MCGANN has been rewarded with the National Two South player-of-the-week accolade after his stellar performance against Dings.

Raiders centre Ciaran McGann in full flight against Dings. (Picture by Martin Gray, 30389237)
Raiders centre Ciaran McGann in full flight against Dings. (Picture by Martin Gray, 30389237)

Now Raiders aim to keep their powerful centre fit so that he can continue to influence games in the way he did in his try-scoring display against the Crusaders – starting with tomorrow’s encounter with Barnstaple at Footes Lane.

‘We have already spoken this week about making that [type of performance] consistent,’ said Guernsey director of rugby Jordan Reynolds, who talked in glowing terms of McGann’s propensity to making big tackles on defence and crucial ball-carries to get the side into the right areas on attack.

‘Between August and December, Ciaran was only involved in about three league games and one in pre-season, but in the games he did play in, he had a huge influence.

‘It is just about keeping him fit. He had two unfortunate injuries before Christmas, but if we can keep him on the park he can be an important player for us.’

McGann is set to be part of an unchanged backline for tomorrow’s fixture, although a couple of players require fitness tests before the side is finalised.

However, flanker Dom Rice is definitely out having picked up a shoulder injury, which means that Hugo Culverhouse will start in the back row.

‘Hugo has been working hard to get back from injury,’ Reynolds said.

‘We need him and Matt Thomas to get fitter, so they have been sharing time, but with Dom out it makes sense to start these guys.

‘Hugo had a good impact last week off the bench – he needs that from the start now and to build some consistency into his game. Hopefully he can do that in the back row this week.’

On paper, Guernsey go into tomorrow’s match as hot favourites against a side who are second from bottom in National Two South having won just two of their 16 games so far this campaign.

Raiders won the reverse fixture in September 27-17.

However, Reynolds is meticulous in his homework and believes that Barnstaple’s performances are improving all the time – and last week they gave second-placed Esher a good battle.

‘Esher struggled with them,’ said the Guernsey coach.

‘When we played them in September, we wanted to play a little bit wider but there was some wetness in the ground so we kept it tighter and found out how physical they are and we struggled too. It was not until the second half that we finally made some inroads.

‘Esher had the same issues last week – they tried to play them direct and they struggled to find points to tick over the scoreboard.

‘I think Barnstaple are a good side. Where they lack is how to win games at this level, but they are learning all the time and watching them now, you can see they have definitely developed from the last time we played them.’

Reynolds added that it is up to his side to control the tempo of the game on what is forecast to be a dry day at Footes Lane.

‘Our game-plan will be fairly similar to the Dings game, we just need to be a little bit more accurate. Hopefully some of that rustiness is behind us. We want to play wide, a little bit more expansive, and try to have some fun with it.’

  • Guernsey v. Barnstaple kicks off at 1.30pm on Saturday at Footes Lane.

Raiders provisional team: Steventon, Ceillam, Currie, Hillier, M Thomas, Culverhouse, Baird, Horrocks, Simmonds, O Thomas, Roberts, McGann, M Armstrong, A Armstrong, Andresen. Replacements: Morgan, Pinkney, Burger, Dan Rice, Davies.

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