Bahrain Rugby Football Club’s (RFC) first XV has suffered something of a mini-injury crisis ahead of the opening round of the Rugby West Asia Championship against Jebel Ali Dragons in Saar tonight.
New signing Lawrence Reynolds had already been ruled out of action and he was joined on the sidelines last week by regular centre Alastair Crombie.
Second row Aidan Laxton and last year’s player-of-the-year Jack Sale both picked up injuries in last week’s challenge match, while the latest blow saw the withdrawal of former Wales Sevens international Justin James on Wednesday night.
Not quite the build-up new head coach Louie Tonkin had been hoping for ahead of his first competitive game in charge but he will certainly get an early opportunity to test the depth and character of his squad that he has put so much emphasis on since his arrival.
Up front, Ollie Sanson gets the nod to start in the front row alongside Lindsey Gibson and debutant Davis Tui on the tighthead side.
Mark Burnell will partner Rich Wilkinson in the second-row, while serial flobber Tom Ham gets a shock call-up on the flank, alongside Toby Borrow, with another competitive debutant in former Doha number eight Tommy Booth.
Rob Bennett starts at scrum-half after an outstanding display in last week’s challenge match, with Luke Radley pulling the strings at fly-half. Skipper Adam Wallace lines up alongside another new recruit in Greg Heath in the centre, while Heath’s fellow Cardiff University alumnus Bentley Halpin is on the left wing.
Terrence Tantoh earns a recall on the right wing, while Oli Luke is at full-back.
On the bench, Arthur West and Sean Ross are in line for their first competitive outings for the club, while seasoned campaigners Arron Dalgarno, Matt McKee and Jose Navarro will be keen to make their mark.
Tonight’s game at Bahrain RFC in Saar is set for a 7pm kick-off and all are welcome to attend.