Former Brumbie Smiler joins as Raiders' fixtures are announced

A FORMER Super Rugby star will bolster the Raiders’ ranks in two capacities next season.

Sam Steventon carrying against Old Albanian last season. OAs will be the visitors to Footes Lane on the first day of next season. (Picture by Martin Gray, 30930827)
Sam Steventon carrying against Old Albanian last season. OAs will be the visitors to Footes Lane on the first day of next season. (Picture by Martin Gray, 30930827)

New Zealander Jordan Smiler, who started his pro career at Waikato before heading to Australia where he made 58 appearances for the ACT Brumbies in Super Rugby between 2013 and 2017, has joined Guernsey after moving with his family to the island.

The addition of the 1.93m tall forward, who can play in the second or back row, is an obvious boost for Guernsey director of rugby Jordan Reynolds.

‘He has been playing professional rugby for 15 years,’ said Reynolds of his new signing.

‘He has just finished a stint in Japan where he played for [Tokyo] Sungoliath for three seasons before he dropped down a couple of levels and did more of a coaching role.

‘For us, his role will be more playing-centred next season, but he will be doing a little bit of coaching, too.’

The news has come out in the same week as the National Two East fixtures for 2022-23 and Raiders will get their campaign under way with back-to-back home fixtures.

Old Albanian will be the first opponents to visit Footes Lane on Saturday 3 September before Barnes make the same trip a week later.

‘It’s very odd to start with two home games, but it’s pretty nice too. OAs and Barnes is a very good start for us. They are going to be tough fixtures, but I only see it as a tough league,’ Reynolds said.

‘We always love to play Barnes. We have got a really good relationship with them as a club, but we also love to try and beat them so to have them here in the second week is absolutely fantastic.

‘As for OAs, we did not get to beat them last season and when we played them in April and ended up just losing at the death, that was the game where we probably rotated our squad the most as we looked ahead to the Siams, so the motivation to show them what we can do on the first day will be pretty high.’

Raiders first away trip will be to Henley in round three before the first of their new opponents – North Walsham – come to Footes Lane at the end of the first month.

The structural changes to levels three and four means National Two has been split into three divisions of 14 clubs each and break weekends have been layered into the season.

‘Having two weekends off before Christmas and having two on the other side as well is perfect,’ Reynolds said.

‘Knowing how much I know about our playing group, getting a week off and resting can make a massive difference and playing 15 games in a row like we did last season... well, we all love the game but I’m not sure we love it that much – everything in moderation.’

Meanwhile, St Jacques Vikings are due to start life in Counties Three Hampshire with back-to-back away games, beginning their season with trips to Fareham Heathens and Portsmouth Seconds.

Their first home game is on Saturday 17 September against Gosport & Fareham Seconds.

Vikings’ programme comprises 14 games pre-Christmas and eight in the new year.

The Guernsey Raiders Ladies will start their 14-match Women’s NC One South East (East) campaign at home to Blackheath on Sunday 25 September.

Guernsey Raiders 2022-23 fixtures

Saturday 3 September – Old Albanians (h); Saturday 10 September – Barnes (h); Saturday 17 September – Henley (a); Saturday 24 September – North Walsham (h); Saturday 1 October – Tonbridge Juddians (a); Saturday 15 October – Westcliff (h); Saturday 22 October – Blackheath (a); Saturday 29 October – Worthing (h); Saturday 5 November – Dorking (a); Saturday 12 November – Sevenoaks (h); Saturday 26 November – Rochford Hundred (a); Saturday 3 December – Canterbury (h); Saturday 10 December – Bury St Edmunds (a); Saturday 17 December – Barnes (a).

Saturday 7 January – Henley (h); Saturday 14 January – North Walsham (a); Saturday 21 January – Tonbridge Juddians (h); Saturday 28 January – Westcliff (a); Saturday 18 February – Blackheath (h); Saturday 25 February – Worthing (a); Saturday 4 March – Dorking (h); Saturday 11 March – Sevenoacks (a); Saturday 25 March – Rochford Hundred (h); Saturday 1 April – Canterbury (h); Saturday 15 April – Bury St Edmunds (h); Saturday 22 April – Old Albanians (a).

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