COVENTRY welcome back new father Andy Brown for Saturday’s home game against Macclesfield as one of four players making their first appearances of the season.
The England Counties prop returns following the birth of his daughter with first calls as well for second row Tom Poole – makes his 97th league appearance for the club – winger Dan Rundle and centre Callum MacBurnie as Cov underline the strength in depth in their squad.
“To be able to welcome back Andy and Tom into the pack and Callum and Dan in into the backs is great,” said director of rugby, Rowland Winter.
“To have competitive options for each position is what we aimed for and it allows us to make changes when required to give opportunities to some players and keep others working hard for their spot.”
In the backs, Rob Knox comes off the bench to resume his partnership at centre alongside MacBurnie with Rundle and Corey Hircock on the wings, while Will Maisey moves to fly-half to partner Rhodri Adamson at half-back. Sam Grasso is joined on the bench by Brendan Burke.
Poole partners Brendon Snyman in the second row with Tom Jubb starting a two-week suspension following his red card at Birmingham Moseley last week.
Darrell Dyer replaces Ali Bone at No.8, and Scott Tolmie and Phil Boulton start in the front row with Matt Price and Jimmy Litchfield joined on the bench by Olly Povoas, who makes his league debut.
Tony Fenner, Boris Stankovich, Max Trimble and James Pritchard are not included this week as they are carrying slight knocks from the Moseley game that haven’t quite recovered.
Added Winter: “Macclesfield were outstanding against Fylde at the weekend and look to have recruited well over the Summer following their promotion-winning campaign. They will be a tough challenge for us.
“We will aim to build on the positives from last week and will be targeting another home win.”
Tom Wheatcroft and Rob Conquest are due an assessment next Monday which will give a date of return to play for both, while Adam Canning is now back to full training after his honeymoon and will aim to get up to speed over the next fortnight.
Cliffie Hodgson is now only a few weeks away from being involved and Pete White is close to a return to light training.
Sam Harry, Alex Smit and Jay Heath miss out on selection this week but may all feature with Wasps in the A League again on Monday night.
Kick-off at Butts Park Arena is 3pm, and entrance is £15 (seniors £11, students £11 on production of valid SU card, 16s and under free if accompanied by an adult). Live entertainment afterwards from our resident band, Soul Junction.
COVENTRY: 15 James Stokes, 14 Dan Rundle, 13 Rob Knox, 12 Callum MacBurnie, 11 Corey Hircock, 10 Will Maisey, 9 Rhodri Adamson, 1 Andy Brown, 2 Scott Tolmie, 3 Phil Boulton, 4 Tom Poole, 5 Brendon Snyman, 6 Brett Daynes, 7 Eoghan Grace (captain), 8 Darrell Dyer.
Replacements: 16 Matt Price, 17 Jimmy Litchfield, 18 Olly Povoas, 19 Sam Grasso, 20 Brendan Burke.
Preview of this week’s other National League One fixtures
by Tom Little
Ampthill & District v Darlington Mowden Park
Blaydon v Loughborough Students
Cambridge v Old Albanian
Coventry Rugby v Macclesfield
Esher v Hartpury College
Fylde v Blackheath
Hull Ionians v Birmingham Moseley
Plymouth Albion v Rosslyn Park
Week three sees winless Blaydon and Fylde both at home as they try to break their ducks, while leaders Hartpury College face their first away game of the season.
Hartpury College, the only side with maximum points, travel to Esher. The home side narrowly lost away to Blackheath, who in turn were beaten heavily by Hartpury in the first week, so on the face of it, Hartpury should be firm favourites. Esher at home, however, do have enough experience and quality to make it close.
Birmingham Moseley, who have started with two narrow wins, travel to Hull Ionians who somewhat surprisingly lost away to Loughborough Students. However, at home Hull should be able to give Moseley a good run in a contest which could go either way.
The only other unbeaten side, Ampthill & District are at home to a Darlington Mowden Park side who struggled to beat Blaydon last week. Park did return to form later on in that game but in visiting Ampthill will be facing a formidable pack and backs who have the ability to take advantage of the possession. The home side should ease to an emphatic win.
Two sides who have settled well on their returns to NL1, Cambridge and Old Albanian reprise their exploits from last season in NL2 South. They seem well-matched and the tie could go either way, in the end home advantage might just swing it.
Plymouth Albion, after a heavy away defeat at Hartpury College, are at home to a Rosslyn Park side still looking for their first win. Albion at home are certainly a force to be reckoned with and should be favourites for this one, although Park cannot yet be written off with the strength and quality in their squad.
Another side yet to win, Fylde are at home to Blackheath who gained their first win of the season at home to Esher last week. Both sides are capable of scoring tries but have already had large away defeats. At home Fylde may be slight favourites, but Blackheath do appear to have the stronger pack and if so should have enough possession to sneak this one.
Winless Blaydon are at home to Loughborough Students. Last week Blaydon were within two minutes of beating DMP, which should give them the confidence to get a win. Their pack should be superior to that of the Students, but Loughborough managed to put behind them their heavy loss at Coventry to beat Hull Ionians. It should be a home win but the Students can never be written off as they will slowly knit together.