Bahrain Rugby Football Club’s (RFC) Select XV marks a first outing since November today as they travel to Oman to take on old adversaries Muscat in the Gulf Conference.
This afternoon’s fixtures is the first in a series of games in quick succession for the Select outfit, which features a number first XV squad and fringe players, as well as a healthy contingent of Golden Oldies.
As such, Bahrain’s Director of Rugby Louie Tonkin has named a strong and experienced line-up, including a host of players who have been involved in the club’s Rugby West Asia Championship campaign this season.
Among them are the impressive front-row unit of the increasingly-versatile Matt McKee, Nick Young and Jose Navarro, who were all used as subs in Bahrain’s top division clash with Dubai Exiles in Saar last weekend.
A strapping second-row unit sees one of Bahrain’s outstanding players of the season, Max Sale, captain the side alongside the rejuvenated Lyndon English, with Bryan Barnard, Arthur West and Matt Axton forming a potent back-row triumvirate.
Tom Hanratty wins the battle of the cousins to start at scrum-half – as protégé, Dicky Ryan, slots in at full-back – while Joel Lewis is handed the reigns at fly-half.
Cobus Grierson and Dan Tomanek will be keen to form a well-balanced centre combination, with Trevor Morris and Ahmed Shehab lining out on the wings.
A strong bench includes veterans Sal Wilson, Gary Adriaan, Tuan Burah and Alastair Crombie, who is waiting to be let loose after his latest injury setback, while the free-scoring Lewis Chance and Chanaka Ranaweera will provide cover for the backs.
Having won their opening match against a Saudi Select XV back in October, the Bahrain side fell short against a strong Doha IIs before Christmas and so will be keen to get back on track against the so-far unbeaten Muscat.