Jersey Reds have added reinforcements to an injury-hit squad prior to heading to Yorkshire for this weekend's Greene King IPA Championship clash with Rotherham Titans.
Fly-half James McKinney, a former Titans player, and Conor Dolan, a centre/wing from Wasps, arrived in Jersey this week and join the Reds' squad for the trip to Clifton Lane.
Saturday's match pits the 10th-placed hosts against their visitors, who are eighth; each side has three wins from their eight league outings to date, with the Reds having earned two more bonus points than their opponents.
The new arrivals augment the Reds' stock of available backs, which had previously dwindled to just seven available players following a host of injuries.
McKinney, 25, (pictured above) has spent three of the last four seasons with Rotherham. He made several appearances against Jersey during this time, and also faced the Reds in the British & Irish Cup in 2013/14 when he returned to his native Ulster for a season. The former Ireland Under 20 cap has agreed a deal stretching to the end of the current season.
Dolan, (pictured above) who turned 20 last month, is a former pupil of Wellington College who was capped by England at Under 18 level and is a member of the Academy section at Wasps. He gained national league experience while playing for Henley Hawks in National One last season; having joined the Reds on a short-term loan deal, he's in line to make his debut from the bench against the Titans.
"We're delighted to get two quality players arriving to bolster the squad," said Reds' Head Coach Harvey Biljon. "Having suffered with injuries to forwards last month, now it is the back-line where we have been struggling, so this is a timely boost."
Just six of the starting XV who defeated Cornish Pirates 27-24 in the Reds' last outing will start the match at Clifton Lane. Former Titan Jordan Davies partners Lewis Robling in midfield, with Kieran Hardy and George Watkins on the wing and Sam Katz, kicker of the winning points against the Pirates, starting at full-back. Joel Dudley partners McKinney at half-back.
In the forwards, an all-new front row comprises hooker Joe Buckle, who will captain Jersey for the first time, and props Mark Tampin - another ex-Titan, and Sean McCarthy. James Voss holds his place at lock and will partner the returning Nick Campbell, while a fourth former Rotherham player, Max Argyle, joins Gary Graham and Nick Haining in the back row.
Jersey's bench includes five players who started the match against Pirates: the front row trio of Jack Macfarlane, Simon Kerrod and Marc Thomas, flanker James Freeman and scrum-half Sami Fisilau. The Reds' other replacements are new signing Dolan and Tongan international Uili Kolo'ofa'i.
The two sides have been evenly-matched during their four seasons competing against each other at Championship level. The Reds did the double last season, winning both matches by convincing margins, but overall the Titans have the slight edge, with four wins and a draw from eight encounters.
Jersey are playing back-to-back away matches in the Championship, with their next outing against league leaders London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday November 27th. The next home match for the Reds will be the Championship fixture against Doncaster Knights on Saturday December 3rd - kick-off at St Peter will be at 2.30pm.
Jersey Reds squad v Rotherham Titans (A) - Greene King IPA Championship, Saturday November 19th, Clifton Lane; k-o 2pm
Joe Buckle (capt)
Jack Macfarlane, Marc Thomas, Simon Kerrod, Uili Kolo'ofa'i, James Freeman; Sami Fisilau, Conor Dolan.
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