Thanks Exeter & thank you Vikings!
Young Exeter Chiefs Academy loosehead Patrick Schickerling will scrum down with the Guernsey Raiders today in a vital game at the bottom of the National Two South.
Much to the relief of Raiders’ head coach Jordan Reynolds, the RFU today gave the thumbs up for Schickerling to play in the relegation battle against Birmingham & Solihull.
Had his emergency registration not gone through - and Reynolds was biting his nails for a while – Raiders would have faced the sad prospect of scratching the game, such is the specialist nature of the front-rowers’ role and several Raiders’ prop choices among the amazing number of 26 sidelined by injury.
‘He is in the Academy set-up and registered to their first team at Exeter and if he is with the Chiefs he is going to be a very good player,’ said the Raiders coach who has been scrambling around these past few days to find 19 players, plus the Exeter player, to take to the Midlands for a game against the side who currently sit bottom of the table, one place and three points behind Raiders.
The ‘Bees’, as they are more commonly known, won the first game between the two sides, 28-19 at Footes Lane earlier in the season.
In that floodlit encounter the visitors came from behind to earn a deserved victory.
Reynolds did not pull any punches after watching his side slip to defeat that night and said ‘it was easily up there with one of the worst performances I have seen in a Guernsey shirt’.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since that late October evening and, for both sides, it has not contained much luck.
As far as Raiders are concerned that might be better described as ‘horrendous ill-luck’ and for this weekend’s game Reynolds has called upon several regular Vikings players to fill the squad.
In that respect he is mightily appreciative to the likes of Jim Regnard, Jacob Smith, Cameron Le Prevost, Matt Lomas and Brad Webb.
‘In fairness, we asked a lot of people on island [to play]. We are really happy that these lads have put their hands up because on Thursday I only had 15.’
One of those Vikings, Matt Lomas, gets his first start for the Raiders on the wing against a side who got a rest last week due to unplayable pitch conditions.
‘We are facing a fresh team and it looks like they have got a full squad out and they will have a reasonable home crowd behind them,’ said Reynolds.
‘All we can do is our best, but these injuries are catastrophic for a team with a squad of 35.’
One rare piece of good news for the Raiders is that Elia Morisio is fit again and returns to the centres where both Blair Campbell and Luke Jones are now injured.
Patrick Schickerling, Tom Ceillam (capt), Layton Batiste, Brad Webb, Nick Merrien, Harry Baron, Dom Rice, Douglas Horrocks; Tom Teasdale, Owen Thomas, Matt Lomas, Elia Morisio, Chris Ahne, Daley Aremu, Anthony Armstrong.
Replacements: George Shannon, Jacob Smith, Jim Regnard, Cameron Le Prevost and Taylor Quate.