Jersey Reds have announced a 24-man squad for the first of a trio of pre-season matches ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon has confirmed his line-up to take on Coventry RFC at St Peter tomorrow (kick-off 3pm), with new club captain Pierce Phillips the man who will lead on the team.
The starting line-up includes five players making their club debut: in the backs, former Scarlets and All Black centre Regan King lines up in midfield, George Watkins starts on the right wing and another ex-Scarlet, Kieran Hardy, is selected at scrum-half. In the pack, two summer recruits from Rotherham Titans will pull on the Red shirt for the first time: tight-head prop Mark Tampin and number eight Max Argyle.
Alongside skipper Phillips in the second row will be Australian lock Dave McKern, making his return to rugby nine months after sustaining a season-ending injury against London Scottish last November.
A further five new recruits are set to make their Jersey debuts off the bench: prop Jake Armstrong, flanker James Doyle, fly-half Sam Katz, centre George Eastwell and former Scotland full-back Jack Cuthbert. Another replacement is former Jersey lock James Voss, who returned to the Island this summer and is set to play his first game for the Reds since May 2014.
"I'm excited to see the boys in action against a visiting side who have recruited well this summer and will provide a strong challenge," said Biljon. "I'm looking at the pre-season block of matches as a whole and have selected squads in order to give an opportunity for game-time to all players and test out combinations before selection is made for our opening league game - that's still a long way off, but I don't expect it to be an easy task!"
After a ninth-placed finish in National One last season, Coventry are looking to be in the promotion mix this time around. A new coaching and management structure, led by former Northampton Saints and Cambridge Coach Rowland Winter, has been assembled, featuring no fewer than four player-coaches: a brace of former Bedford backs in James Pritchard and Brendan Burke, South African lock Brendon Snyman and former Leicester prop Boris Stankovich.
The Reds face a trio of pre-season games as Coventry, Ampthill (August 13th) and Aviva Premiership side Worcester Warriors (August 20th) visit St Peter. The Greene King IPA Championship season starts on the first weekend of September, when the Reds travel to London to take on Richmond; the first home league game of the season, when Bedford Blues will be the visitors, takes place on Saturday September 10th.
Tickets for the pre-season matches, as well as membership and season ticket packages for supporters for the 2016/17 season, plus a full list of confirmed fixtures to date, and profiles of the 1st XV squad, are available via the links below.
To read more about opponents Coventry RFC, including accounts of previous matches between the clubs, click HERE
Jersey squad v Coventry RFC (H) - Pre-season match, Saturday August 6th, St Peter, k-o 3pm
Pierce Phillips (capt)
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