Nottingham Outlaws continue the defence of their Conference League South crown on Saturday with a tough looking home tie against Welsh outfit West Wales raiders at Highfields (kick off 2.30pm) writes Richard Johnson.
After a two-week gap in the fixture list the resurgent Outlaws will be looking to extend their current winning run to three out of three games played. Indeed consecutive victories over the Royal Artillery and Torfaen Tigers have seen the rampant Outlaws notch up almost 100 points as they have started the new campaign pretty much where they left off at the end of last season.
However Saturday’s game will no doubt present a tough challenge and matches against the Raiders are particularly close fought affairs. Indeed the Outlaws had a real tussle with the Llanelli outfit in both league encounters last year with each side taking the spoils at home. The Outlaws, though, finally nudged ahead in the series when they overcame a young Raiders outfit in the play-off semi-final on their way to the Conference League South crown last year.
After a series of tough squad sessions player-coach George Strachan mulled over his squad selection before making a few changes to the team that did so well in the 54-0 demolition of Torfaen last time out.
Whilst the halfbacks and the threequarters remain unchanged Strachan has been forced to make a number of changes in the forwards. With regular forwards like Howley, Costante and Prime all missing there has been a significant reshuffle of the pack with utility back Sam Campbell being drafted into the forwards for the first time in his Outlaws career.
Other changes in the front six see Academy hooker Josh Rymell elevated to the number nine jersey to make a much deserved first class debut for the Outlaws’ first team.
Whilst the pack carries a number of changes to the usual suspects there is plenty of beef waiting in the wings, Strachan having named three big forwards on the bench. Indeed Ephraim, Barton and Crummay will no doubt be itching to get on the pitch to bring some additional size and power to the proceedings when needed. However it is not all brawn on the bench as veteran playmaker Paul Calland is also waiting in the wings ready to add some finesse and try scoring ability once he enters the fray!
Nottingham squad for Saturday: 1. Adam Cunliffe, 2. Jon Christie, 3. Reece Needham, 4. Adam Simm, 5. Adrian Chaima, 6. Will Martin, 7. Alex Whittle, 8. Alex Wright, 9. Josh Rymell, 10. George Strachan, 11. Coryn Ward, 12. Sam Campbell, 13. Oliver Dale, 14. William Ephraim, 15. Joe Barton, 16. Patrick Crummay, 17. Paul Calland