Bahrain Rugby Football Club’s (RFC) first XV are back in action in the West Asia Premiership this evening, as they play host to a much-anticipated first clash of the season with high-flying Dubai Hurricanes at Saar.
After a welcome week off, Bahrain head coach has the majority of his charges in fine fettle but ongoing injury issues have once again curtailed his options in some key areas.
Up front, Rich Muncaster’s return is the only change to the starting pack as he starts at tighthead prop alongside Lindsey Gibson and Jack Perry.
Mark Burnell and Derryn Jones lock down again in the engine room, while Jordan Viggers, Tommy Booth and Elliot Behan continue their impressive back-row triumvirate – with the latter captaining the side for the first time.
It’s an all-new half-back pairing as Rob Bennett makes his first start since the opening Western Clubs Champions League clash in Kandy back in August and the ever-versatile Deina Morete becomes the fifth player to occupy the Bahrain number ten shirt so far this season as he is handed the reigns at fly-half.
Dai Evans and Jack Phillips continue their centre partnership in the absence of club skipper Adam Wallace and behind them, Callum Roberts shifts to full-back to make way for the returning Graham Bishop to make his first start since injuring his shoulder in the corresponding fixture last February, with Alastair Crombie continuing on the opposite after his match-winning heroics against Dragons two weeks ago.
In reserve, second row Tom Bell is another welcome returnee after rupturing his appendix back in September and he is named on a strong-looking bench alongside Oli Sanson, Arron Dalgarno, Aled Morris, Nick Annear, Joel Lewis and Leon Mauer, who has miraculously passed a late fitness test.
Today’s game is set for a 5pm kick-off in Saar and once again will be screened live via Bahrain RFC’s Facebook page. Al Khobar and Muscat will provide the curtain-raiser to the day’s live action, as they face off in the Gulf Conference.