Local lad David Opoku is set to make his senior debut for Coventry Rugby in tomorrow’s Premiership Rugby Cup round four clash against Nottingham (Butts Park Arena, 4pm).
The 20-year-old wears the number 14 jersey having impressed during pre-season, whilst also boasting a number of eye-catching performances for the academy side last campaign.
Rae makes six other changes to the side that defeated Hartpury a week ago, putting an end to a series of frustrating trips to the Alpas Arena.
After last week’s classy performance on the wing, Tobi Wilson shifts to fullback to allow James Martin to start opposite the debutant, Opoku.
Inside them Will Rigg returns to the starting line up to join Lucas Titherington in a strong centre partnership while the half-back pairing of Will Chudley and Evan Mitchell keep their place. Theo Mannion is named among the replacements.
Cov also make alterations to the starting pack as tight head prop Eliot Salt returns. An all-new second row of Rhys Anstey and Obinna Nkwocha will pack down in front of Senitiki Nayolo who returns from suspension to replace Paddy Ryan at 6.
Back-rower Chester Owen and fit-again hooker Will Biggs keep their place on the bench alongside the likes of Fin Ogden and Matt Kvesic, showing the wide range of experience within the Coventry squad.
Nottingham ran in some excellent scores last week against Saracens, and despite sitting in the bottom position within Pool A the Archers will pose a real threat to Alex Rae’s side.
Cov’s boss is therefore expecting a tricky test at home but is hoping that the BPA crowd can aid in a repeat of Coventry’s opening weekend heroics.
“Today’s game will be another tough fixture and we’re taking nothing for granted” he said.
“I wouldn’t read into Nottingham’s results, they’re a better team than they suggest, and we’ve prepared for a really tough game which I have no doubt it will be.”
“It’s fantastic to name David in the starting team, a local lad from Coventry who’s worked incredibly hard and full deserves his chance. It’s great for kids of Coventry to see there’s a pathway for them to play for Coventry.”
Coventry Rugby: Wilson; Opoku, Titherington, Rigg, Martin; Mitchell, Chudley; Chilvers, Poole, Salt; Anstey, Nkwocha; Nayalo, Ball, Bartlett.
Replacements: Biggs, Trinder, Andrews, Smith, Owen, Ogden, Mannion, Kvesic.
More details about season membership at Coventry Rugby are available here.