Jersey Reds return to action this weekend after 377 days without competitive rugby.
The Reds will ease back into the swing of the Greene King IPA Championship with a gentle opener in north London at the StoneX Stadium, hope of multiple English and European champions Saracens.
Saturday’s opponents were relegated to the Championship last year and will be smarting from an opening round defeat to the Cornish Pirates last weekend, when the Reds remained out of action as a result of having a ‘bye’ week.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon has selected a similar starting XV to the one he fielded in pre-season matches at Coventry and Cornish Pirates, although he has been obliged to shuffle his resources in the three-quarters as a result of injuries.
Scott van Breda has returned to the Island from Worcester Warriors on a short-term loan, having made the move to the Gallagher Premiership side in 2018, and slots straight in at centre to help combat a shortage of available backs.
A total of seven players are lined up to make their competitive debuts for the Reds, with another two potential debutants ready on the bench, which has a split of six forwards and two backs.
Lewis Wynne, selected by Biljon as Captain of the Reds this season, has recovered from a minor injury in pre-season and comes into the starting XV at openside flanker.
The Reds will travel to Luton Airport by charter flight with the club’s Official Airline Partner Blue Islands. Members of the travelling party are subject to strict Covid-19 protocols – this includes tests during the days leading up to the game and multiple further tests following their return to Jersey.
The game will be played behind closed doors as a result of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, but will be streamed live, with access costing £10 per subscriber and available via www.championshiprugby.co.uk/live-streams
The Reds previous league game was the home defeat by eventual league champions Newcastle Falcons on February 29th 2020. On Friday March 13th the Reds were forced to cancel the planned trip to Nottingham for a league match the following day as a result of Covid-19 contact tracing for two players, and the following week the Championship season was suspended and eventually cancelled.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Saracens (A) – Greene King IPA Championship, Round 1/10, StoneX Stadium, Saturday March 13th 2021, k-o 1.30pm (* = debut)
Tom Williams; George Spencer, Scott van Breda, Dan Barnes *, Brendan Owen; Brendan Cope, James Elliott *; Dan Richardson *, TJ Harris, Ciaran Parker *, Zak Farrance *, Sean O’Connor *, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt) *, Kyle Hatherell.
Jack Macfarlane, Roy Godfrey, Zei Alexis, Rory Bartle, Tim Grey *, Cameron Nordli Kelemeti *, Josh Bainbridge, Apakuki Ma’afu