Guernsey director of rugby Jordan Reynolds admitted yesterday that he has got ‘one eye on those two Siams’ with his side due to play every week until the end of the season and following last Friday’s frustrating 20-15 defeat at home to Bury St Edmunds, which came six days after a mammoth effort against promotion-chasing Clifton, Reynolds has opted to start giving key players a break.
‘I think a lot of the issue we had against Bury St Edmunds was fatigue after the Clifton game because that match was a big step up both physically and mentally, and people might look at a Friday night game and think that it is not much different to playing on a Saturday afternoon, but it is in recovery terms.
‘We kept the sessions down last week and tried to recoup as much as possible, but you could see how the players were reacting to things as the second half went on against BSE and tiredness played a part in that.
‘Hence why Tom Ceillam is not starting this week and you will probably see a fair bit of rotation over the coming weeks.’
Dan Morgan will come into the starting XV at hooker for tomorrow’s visit to second-bottom Westcliff while James Burger will start in the pack in place of Hugo Culverhouse, who picked up an ankle injury against BSE but will hopefully be sidelined for only a couple of weeks.
In the backline Charlie Davies will return in midfield after being unavailable last week with Ethan Smith shifting out to the wing.
Reynolds revealed that the message in training this week had been about ‘stripping it back slightly and understand our roles’ to try and get back to winning ways.
‘It’s supposed to be nice weather and Westcliff have a big open pitch, so that should suit us and we want to get down to our simple plans with the big focus being on how we launch from our set-piece,’ he said.
Westcliff have won just two of their 24 games this season, but they showed what they are capable of when upsetting Old Albanian on the road earlier this week and they have the benefit of going into this game off a bye week.
‘I think Westcliff are no different to how we were in National Two the first time we were in the league – we were desperate for wins and fought really hard.
‘They showed against Old Albanian that if you get stuck in a tough contest with them, they can turn you over and it will be different to the last time we played them here because they were depleted and we loaned them players – this time they have had a week off and will have a few players back.
‘They are a big side and play direct rugby, so it is up to us to set the speed of the game and that’s what we have been working on.’
Steventon, Morgan, Pinkney, Hillier, Baird, Burger, Rice, Horrocks, Simmonds, Andresen, Smith, Davies, McGann, Armstrong, Roberts. Replacements: Ceillam, Currie, Webb, Barker, Jamieson.