GREENOCK Wanderers’ 1st XV will be heading along the M8 tomorrow for a return fixture with Lasswade RFC in BT National League Two.
With the recent torrential rain causing both pitches at Fort Matilda and the Battery Park pitch to be declared unplayable last weekend, the squad is keen to get back into action.
Injuries and availability issues, due to work and family commitments, have hampered the season since day one and this situation continues to affect selection this week, though mainly in the back-line.
In the forwards things are looking up, with Ali Abernethy coming back into the team in recent weeks.
Dougie Smith and Liam Campbell start in the front row of the scrum tomorrow, adding their bulk and experience to the team, and Stu Alexander completes the trio at hooker.
Former captains Abernethy and Murray McDonald take their place in the second row.
Their leadership skills will prove invaluable as the season goes on, guiding the emerging younger players in the squad.
Team captain Andrew Love leads from the back row, alongside John Stewart and new arrival from New Zealand Nathan Quirey. Last year’s under-18 player of the year David Smith will also be featuring from the bench. He is surely a star of the future.
Matt Gray resumes his comeback from a knee injury, turning out for the 2nd XV this week.
Full-back Leigh Tyley started full training this week after a bad leg break in the first game of the season at Whitecraigs.
It is important that these players are back in action as soon as they are fully fit, to relieve the pressure placed on some very young players, but also to give a mix of experience in amongst them, to assist with their development in a very tough league.
There are a couple of injury worries within the backs but Callum Harrison will be a certainty for the No 10 shirt.
The talented stand-off has been training with the Glasgow Academy Under-23 squad, and the confidence from that experience is beginning to show in his performances.
Alongside him, Andrew Telfer has been steadily improving at 12. His ball carrying skills and great hands should allow him to set up a platform to work off.
Head coach Graham Knox is confident this powerful pack and skilful back-line will have the game plan to edge out a physical Lasswade side.
The 2nd XV travel to Annan for their BT Reserve League West 2a fixture. Annan are one of three sides competing for top spot in the league.
They are currently in second place, two points behind Greenock.
A victory for Greenock will help consolidate the drive towards the league title, and will provide a challenge for a team packed with talented young players.
Also tomorrow, the under-18 squad will be in Motherwell, taking on Dalziel Under-18s in their Youth Conference match.
On Sunday, Greenock Ladies will host Edinburgh side Lismore at Fort Matilda. The ladies will be looking for maximum points to assist their push for promotion in only their first year of league rugby.
They are lying second in the table, with three games in hand over the first and third placed clubs.
On a busy Sunday at the club, the under-15 and under-16 teams will play Dalziel in the Youth Conference.
The under-15 side are unbeaten in the conference this season, and the players and coaches are determined to keep up their run of form.
The S1 and S2 squad will travel to Dalziel in the same competition.