Powerful centre Lucas Titherington makes his first start since the autumn when Coventry visit his former club Caldy tomorrow.
Following the departure of Will Rigg to Premiership Exeter, the 24-year-old, who has twice featured as a replacement since making his return from injury at the turn of the year, now gets the opportunity to partner Will Wand in Cov’s midfield.
With broken nose victim Ryan Hutler forced to leave the action during the first half of last week’s defeat by Cornish Pirates, Cov also make a change on the right wing where the speedy David Opoku comes in for his fourth appearance and second Championship start.
Since scrum-half Will Chudley is recuperating from a knock suffered against Pirates, last week’s try-scoring replacement no.9 Will Lane partners Pat Pellegrini at half back. Fin Ogden has therefore been recalled from his loan stint at Leicester Lions and will be among the replacements for the first time since Cov’s Premiership Rugby Cup defeat at Gloucester.
In the forwards, Cov boss Alex Rae opts for height in his back five where Obinna Nkwocha operates at blindside flanker and USA international Paddy Ryan wears no.7.
This gives Rhys Anstey a seventh start of the season in the second row alongside James Tyas while last week’s starting flankers Tom Ball and Matt Kvesic – who has started 13 of Cov’s 15 matches to date – switch to the bench.
Elliot Chilvers’ impressive second-half cameo against the Pirates sees him take the loose head shirt at Paton Field while Vili Nairau provides support from among the replacements.
Cov were forced to work hard in the opening 40 minutes before eventually pulling away to a 45-5 home win over tomorrow’s hosts on the opening day of the league season and head coach Rae is expecting another tough test tomorrow.
“Watching Caldy’s more recent games they are clearly trying to evolve and move the ball around so there’s more to them than a big pack of forwards,” he said.
“We are well aware of how well they do on their own ground after just managing to escape with some points from our last visit there. The elements can be really difficult – there’s often a howling wind blowing in from the coast.
“Results haven’t gone their way recently but it’s right up there as one of the toughest away days in the Championship.”
Coventry Rugby: Wilson; Opoku, Wand, Titherington, Martin; Pellegrini, Lane; Chilvers, Poole, Nicol; Tyas, Anstey; Nkwocha, Ryan, Nayalo.
Replacements: Biggs, Nairau, Salt, Bartlett, Kvesic, Ogden, Mitchell, Ball
Buy tickets to Coventry Rugby’s home game against Ampthill on Saturday February 24th here: https://www.coventryrugby.co.uk/tickets/matchday-tickets/