Guernsey Press

McGann is only new Raider in the opener

RAIDERS will be up against familiar faces as the new National Two East campaign kicks off today.

Co-captains Dom Rice and Lewis Hillier are among the Raiders players enjoying a light-hearted moment at training this week in preparation for today’s clash with Henley Hawks. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32483687)

Guernsey are away to Henley against whom they have had some incredibly close battles in recent years, no more so than last season when the Hawks triumphed in both by an aggregate of just five points.

‘They have always been pretty tough affairs with Henley,’ said Guernsey director of rugby Jordan Reynolds.

‘They were a team we were ahead against both times last season and lost at the death twice.

‘We had opportunities to win both games – the first we had a late score disallowed and in the second we had a penalty kick graze the post right at the end,’ he added of games that ended 28-24 and 27-26 to the Hawks.

‘They look like they have a strong squad again and Henley are very structured in how they play, so there should be a good contrast of styles in the game.

‘We know we have got to be on it physically throughout the game against Henley, but what is in our favour is having had two pre-season games this year, so we should have a good mindset leading into this one.’

The management team have opted to start just one of their newcomers today with Niall McGann joining his older brother Ciaran in the centres.

Props JP Phelan and Jamie Dunn will be in action for Vikings this afternoon.

‘They have only been here a few weeks and while everything looks promising and they are training well, the fact is they only got around 20 minutes each in the Rotherham game so far and it is hard to replicate game intensity in training,’ Reynolds said.

‘By playing with the Vikings, we can build a bit more match fitness and get them into the flow of the game because we play the same structures.

‘It was a tough decision this week, but we went this way.’

In the backs, Anthony Armstrong will be away for the first three weeks of the season, so Sam Boyland will start on the wing, and Dan Rice is also unavailable this week meaning Tom Teasdale will wear the No 10 shirt.

‘Tom and Dan have both been working as fly-half options for us throughout pre-season,’ said Reynolds.

‘Tom has definitely got the tools to be a good 10, it’s just about learning game management, when to kick and so on.

‘But at the moment we just want him to go out and play his own game, use his skill-set to the best of his ability, and slowly we will develop other areas. He has got time on his side.

‘Owen Thomas has not been involved in pre-season and has only just come back to training, so he is on the bench as cover this week.’

Raiders team

Jacob Pinkney, James Burger, Charlie Currie, Lewis Hillier, Brad Webb, Matt Creber, Dom Rice, Hugo Culverhouse, Charlie Simmonds, Tom Teasdale, Ethan Smith, Niall McGann, Ciaran McGann, Sam Boyland, Callum Roberts. Replacements: Phil Le Noury, Tom Bray, Liam Welch, Dale Rutledge, Owen Thomas.