Unsurprisingly No. 8 Doug Horrocks is back in the ranks after being rested for the defeat at Henley a week ago, but due to National Two rules, Guernsey are restricted to fielding just two of their New Zealanders in a match-day squad, which left director of rugby Jordan Reynolds with a dilemma ahead of this weekend’s clash at Footes Lane.
However, his hand was forced somewhat by front-row absences, so Jacob Pinkney retains his place while scrum-half Dale Rutledge drops out.
‘It was not an easy decision, but when we lost Dan Morgan [to injury last week] it made things even tougher in the front row and we know how important our back row will be this weekend,’ Reynolds said.
‘I tried juggling the different options, but having two of our performing forwards in the pack is key for this game because that’s where Hinckley’s strengths lie in a big way – they have probably got one of the more dominant packs in the league.’
With regular scrum-half Charlie Simmonds still on the treatment table, Lucas Barker will don the No. 9 shirt for the green-and-whites.
‘It is a bit of a gamble, but he played for us there a couple of years ago and during the “Test” series we played in lockdown, so we are not moving mountains to facilitate it,’ said the coach.
‘It is a change we have to make and it’s not ideal for someone like Dale, but someone was going to miss out this week and it will be different against other opposition when we look to play in a different way.’
In other changes from last week’s outing, Tom Ceillam returns at hooker and Owen Thomas is back at fly-half, with Charlie Davies shifting to inside centre and Ethan Smith moving onto the wing with Michael Jamieson among the replacements.
‘With the weather supposed to be pretty good, the idea for us is to make use of our wider pitch and we have made selections in the backline to suit that with guys on the wing who will look to be combative – to have two powerful wingers to get over the gain-line is important to how we want to play.’
Hinckley are four places below Raiders in the table, but have won eight of their 19 games including an impressive 15-13 home win over title contenders Esher last week.
When these two sides met in October, Guernsey edged a tight game 19-16 in Leicestershire.
‘The scorelines suggest that Hinckley have enjoyed the really wet games of late,’ Reynolds said.
‘They are a good side who beat Esher last week at home.
‘We had a really tight game last time we played them and we showed a lot of determination to win a hgame that could have gone either way – we just found a way to win in trying conditions.
‘We have got them at home this week and the big message in training has been to answer the call from last week.
‘We want to see a different mindset because we were not overly happy with how we played at Henley, we are looking to flick a switch and the energy has been there in training this week.’
Guernsey’s match with Hinckley kicks off at 1.45pm tomorrow at Footes Lane.
Guernsey Raiders team: Steventon, Ceillam, Currie, M Thomas/Webb, Culverhouse, Baird, Dom Rice, Horrocks, Barker, O Thomas, Roberts, Davies, McGann, Smith, A Armstrong. Replacements: Pinkney, Bray, Burger, Andresen, Jamieson.