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Season 2021 / 2022 - Hopes and Expectations...

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Post by GeordieFalcon Tue 03 Aug 2021, 4:05 pm

First topic message reminder :

Well the season isnt too far away....

Whats your thoughts for your club for the season ahead...

Whats your Expectations for the league position, Europe, and how you want to see them perform tactically etc...

Whats your thoughts on the squad, your clubs recruitment...going in to the season

Do you have any hopes...ie seeing young players getting a game, or maybe older out of form / long term injured players players coming back to their best?

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Post by formerly known as Sam Fri 10 Sep 2021, 11:32 am

geoff999rugby wrote:Some feedback from the Ulster Saracens friendlies.
To be clear I watched the first game, have yet to watch the second but have spoken to a number who did.

Ulster lack true power and as consequence are trying to play a fast paced game - in the Premiership the best comparisons would be Quins and Saints.

Saracens looked ponderous by comparison and didn't seem to adapt to the pace of the game.
They did run away with the first game but only because of three late tries when they exposed a couple of youngsters who came on.
Also in both games they sailed very close to the wind with respect to dangerous play - this will get them in trouble.
Only friendlies I know but from what I've seen, and what I have heard, I would downgrade my prediction for them.

I would put them with Tigers, Bath, Saints in the 5 to 8 bracket rather than the top 4 bracket

Didn't Sarries hammer Ulster in the first half of the first game and then Ulster come back in the second after a Sarries red card?

SARACENS: Sean Maitland; Alex Lewington, Dom Morris, Nick Tompkins, Rotimi Segun; Alex Lozowski, Aled Davies; Ralph Adams-Hale, Tom Woolstencroft, Marco Riccioni; Nick Isiekwe, Tim Swinson; Jackson Wray, Ben Earl, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements from: Ethan Lewis, Richard Barrington, Harvey Beaton, Callum Hunter-Hill, Sean Reffell, Sam Bryan, Manu Vunipola, Charlie Watson, Joel Kpoku, Janco Venter, Andy Christie, Josh Hallett, Ben Harris, Elliott Obatoyinbo, Sam Crean, Sam Wainwright.

Strong enough side to take a big loss this week though. Two yellow cards after last week's red doesn't bode well for their discipline though I wouldn't read too much into pre season results. Let's face it the best players play for about 50mins max of any game and then come off that won't happen during the season. Still that level of win will only boost Ulster won't help Sarries morale.

I would be surprised if Sarries weren't in the mix for a playoff, they may well miss out but to be honest the only two sides who i think will definitely make the playoffs are Chiefs and Bristol. At least half the league will be eying up the other two spots.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 10 Sep 2021, 2:26 pm

An experienced Saracens team, at least compared to the Ulster one, did get the better of an Ulster team with only one ot two starters in it in the first half.
When Ulster brought on a couple of more experienced forwards Reidy, AOC and an excellent Roberts they outgunned Saracens and got within 5 points. This mostly, if not all was when Saracens had 15 on the field.

Near the end Ulster put a couple of youngsters in the threes and they were badly caught out leading to three quick Saracens tries - this was when Saracens had 14 men.
In spite of the score Ulster had more to take from the game than Saracens, who until the last 10 minutes only seemed to have one thing in their locker - kick long and hope brute force wins out.

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Post by doctor_grey Fri 10 Sep 2021, 2:40 pm

WELL-PAST-IT wrote:
doctor_grey wrote:
WELL-PAST-IT wrote:My view on the best 23 for Saints when all available, should cause most teams a lot of trouble both upfront and in the backs, both pace and size a plenty everywhere.  I suspect though that with the locks Saints have Lawes will play 6.  I want to see Willemsen play; just based on reputation, a 20 st+ mobile 8 (also EQ holds a British passport) is not something we have seen around for a while, not since BV in his heyday anyway. He could be a bit of competition for Dombrandt. Cousin of Nadolo, so comes with a pedigree.

Front row is my only worry, especially LH. None strikes me to be of a any great class, some young potential, but Waller hasn't been as good as he used to be for a couple of seasons.

Waller
Haywood
Hill
Ribbans
Lawes
Harrison/Augustus
Ludlam
Willemsen/Augustus
Mitchell
Biggar
Naiyaravoro
Proctor
Hutchinson
Sleightholme
Freeman

Hobbs-Awoyemi
Matavesi
Painter
Moon/Willemsen
Wood/Harrison
James
Grayson
Tuala/Furbank
I agree in general.  Only real personnel weaknesses are LH who have issues scrummaging and hookers who can't throw.  The rest is on the coaches to have the defense prepared to avoid giving away games late on.  

And only with Saints logic do de have a winger, Taqele Naiyaravoro, known as Big T and a back row forward, Teimana Harrison, known as Little T.  

I was thinking beyond the starting 23 and who we have as cover for injuries and international call ups, we are going to have to put faith in the kids in a lot of slots.

Auterac/Iyogun
Marshal
Heffernan/Garside (the larger)
Ratuniyarawa
Cole (needs to put on two stone)/Nansen
Wood/Harrison/Augustus (whoever is not in the current 23)
Newman/Tonks
Willemsen/Harrison/Wood (see 6)
Tupai
Furbank/Arden
Collins
Francis
Dingwall
Dani Long-Martinez
Tuala/Hendy

Those in bold are all squeaky clean to the game.

However, they must be a lot of strength in depth when you can leave Ratuniyarawa, Collins, Francis, Dingwall plus possibly Tuala of of the 23.

I think we will see a lot of rotation in the front row.  Really excited to see Iyogun, Heffernan and now Garside, The Larger, get some quality minutes.  I suppose they should(?) have regular time with the Wanderers as well.  

I thought Tonks actually had some significant game time towards the end of last season, but looked like he needed some seasoning.  But I could be sniffing the ether, too.

Second row is going to look a lot different across the season, and I think could be the biggest challenge for the team.  Lawes will be available for a max of 50% of games, and Ribbans deserves his call-up too.  So for most of the season, I think we are looking at a rotation of the two Alexes, Api (not a real jumping option), and Brandon Nansen and Karl Wilkins, both of whom need to come in and really light it up. With questionable throwing in from our hookers, we better have real lineout excellence.   If Api starts, that almost makes it necessary for Wood to be in the back row as a second lineout option.  Willemsen is tall as well, but I have no idea how good he can be in the lineout.  
 
I think we will end up with a scrum half rotation mostly of Mitchell, Tupai (who I think has big potential), and Frank Lomani, whenever he arrives.  With three quality 9s, plus the other 9s on the roster, this gives a lot of options.   The rest of the backs is really anyone's guess.  A lot of potential, I am still a big Furbank fan though Freeman was lights-out late last season, so we have options.  I hope we will have a lot of rotation in the first part of the season.  That said, Proctor was great in NZ in the centres, not the wing.    

LIVE STREAM today on the Saints web site.  
I will miss at least the first half because I am reconstructing a shoulder which starts in an hour (this is my last mental break before hand) which will take most of the day.  The damage is extensive and we are trying an approach never quite done before.  So much detail, but the neurosurgeon working with me is one of the best in the country.  So we feel confident, but still had no sleep last night just reviewing this over and over.  The Rugby, and a quality Saints performance will be a great way to come down afterwards.  guinness guinness guinness

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Sat 11 Sep 2021, 11:02 am

Well, better than last week, but not much. Lineout functioned and Fish after a couple of misses started to throw straight. Saints bossed the scrum but the ref needs to go on a coaching course to understand that a scrum is not wheeling if one side of it is stable and not going either backwards of forwards. Twice he penalised Saints for wheeling when Waller got the push on or Ospreys walked back, but Hill or Painter where rock solid and stationary.

Again Saints were too eager to get the offload, it cost them one try through and intercept and numerous times lost field position.

Positives:

Furbank actually looks a decent 10, he can even kick pretty well, knocking them over from close to the touch line.

Litchfield is going to be wasted at Bedford, only 20 he is already powerful and will get more so, silky handling skills, pace and a great offload, he should be learning from the likes of Hutchinson and Proctor.

Augustus continues to look the real deal and has some real pace.

Hutchinson is looking just so good, nearest thing I have seen to Will Greenwood, it's a pity England didn't come knocking before Scotland, he is after all English, born in Cambridge and lived all his life in England.

The scrum looked solid, not spectacular, but when they moved it was forwards, not backwards.

Mitchell looks fit and ready for the season, had a good game all round.

Negatives:

Tackling was once again awful, far too many missed tackles.

Too many hopeful offloads instead of recycling the ball and going again.

A general lack of cohesion, but that is possibly to be expected in what is basically a Saints Barbarians 15/26 with a roll on roll of game strategy.

Maxwell-Keys was the ref, if this is the standard to reffing we can expect in the Prem this year, we are in for a very frustrating time, simply awful. No TMO to help out, got far to many decisions wrong.

More good news, Bigger starts training on Monday and Lawes the week after.

The side for Gloucester next week is going to be very interesting, taking a punt:

Waller, Matevesi, Hill
Moon, Ribbans,
Harrison, Ludlam, Augustus
Mitchell, Grayson,
Proctor, Hutchinson
Naiyaravoro, Sleightholme, Freeman

Hobbs-Awoyemi, Fish, Painter
Ratuniyarawa
Wood
Tupai / James
Furbank
Tuala

Strange that nothing has been seen or heard about Mikey Hayward, Dave Ribbans, Piers Francis, Ollie Sleightholme or new boy Duane Willemsen. Are they all fit?



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Post by doctor_grey Sat 11 Sep 2021, 12:35 pm

I like your starting lineup, and it has to be close to the one Boyd selects.  Ribbans is finishing his suspension, and is available next weekend.  I also hear nothing about Sleightholme, Francis, Willemsen, and Miley H..  Odd that.  But nothing on the injury front either.  

I also thought Furbank played quite well at 10.  He got the attack moving and, overall, looked the part.  Is he one of those players who goes into the England camp and actually comes back better????  Very hopeful on that count.  As you said, the scrum was actually - good.  Haven't said that in a long time.  

Saints scores came from good play and some blistering speed (though passes at the wrong time) whilst a couple of Osprey's scores were straight from Saints errors, so that was encouraging.  

Augustus, at least in last night's game, looked like he could be a real game changer.  He looked like a Sherman tank on attack.  Didn't see him miss a tackle either.  Having a powerful runner at 6 or 8 will be a huge help knocking the opposition back a bit and creating space.   Litchfield really looked good too.  Isn't he a centre, though he played on the wing?  Could you imagine Saints being able, and really capable of having a direct attack in addition to the outside runners?  I am almost giddy (but then I think of our lineout throws)....

I really like the live streams of the matches.  Especially having our guys do the commentary.  Almost like having mates in the room.

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Post by doctor_grey Sat 11 Sep 2021, 12:46 pm

Furbank or Grayson???
https://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/saints-face-big-call-at-fly-half-ahead-of-gloucester-game-3379581

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Sat 11 Sep 2021, 1:59 pm

doctor_grey wrote:Furbank or Grayson???
https://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/saints-face-big-call-at-fly-half-ahead-of-gloucester-game-3379581

The 23 I selected were what I suspect will be the squad, I would stick with that pack but would change the backs about a bit, Furbank at 10, Litchfield at 12.

Think of that pace in the back line, Mitchell, Furbank, Sleights, Freeman all have the pace to burn up any defence, Litchfield is a bludgeon on the end of a rapier, not quite as much pace as the others but as a feeder to that 4 , plus my player of the moment Hutchinson and Big Nav, I think he would be the one to set them alight. Hutchinson has just about everything you could want in a centre and Big Nav is Big Nav, has he ever not made ground.

Exiting days to be a Saints fan (I hope).

Do you see the likeness to Picamoles in the way Augustus plays?

Lineouts, we have Mikey and Matevasi ahead of Fish, possibly Marshall as well, so don't be too despondent.

Are the live streams only for the friendlies or the Prem as well?
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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Sat 11 Sep 2021, 2:07 pm

By the way, how did your shoulder reconstruction go, did the patient survive having a brain surgeon playing with this shoulder. I suppose that is better than a shoulder surgeon playing with his brain.
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Post by doctor_grey Sat 11 Sep 2021, 3:58 pm

WELL-PAST-IT wrote:By the way, how did your shoulder reconstruction go, did the patient survive having a brain surgeon playing with this shoulder. I suppose that is better than a shoulder surgeon playing with his brain.
The reconstruction was one of the most incredible procedures I have been involved with.  We literally had to rebuild the shoulder joint which had been shattered whilst also creating channels for the main nerves to freely travel down the arm (if the nerves are impinged or further damaged the arm will atrophy and eventually be lost).  We had a massive team in the OR and connected by computer.  The nerve docs were dealing with millimeters and microns of material and were perfect.  We think we got it right, but the patient requires three or four more procedures to ensure the joint is properly functional and there is no calcification in the wrong places (and no latent infection).  Lot's 'o beer afterwards, which means I can't be called in until Monday....

Had a thought about Mikey Heywood:  Instead of having him aim straight down the lineout channel, why not turn him 20° to starboard then let him throw???

If Augustus can do for Saints what Billy Cheeseburger did for England in his prime, then all that speed we have in the backs will have a huge impact.  What do you think of Furbank or Grayson?  Or Furbank or Freeman or Tuala?  I still think Francis is the backs linchpin for the defense, so how do we fit him in?  We actually have options...........

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Post by Margin_Walker Sun 12 Sep 2021, 8:11 am

Decent win for LI away at Connacht on Friday night (14 - 47).

Connacht: Tries: Prendergast (42) Sullivan (59); Conversions: Carty (43 (60)
London Irish: Tries: Creevy (3), Donnell (27) Parton (34) (38) Harmes (48) Williams (55) Stokes (71) Conversions: Jackson (4) (28) (39) Jennings (49) (56) (72)


Played a very fast paced game, keeping the ball alive at every opportunity and scoring some cracking tries. No idea how it will translate to the premiership though as it was all pretty high risk and easy to imagine a few of the high risk passes and offloads getting picked off and run back on a different day in a tighter game against a better defence.

It was also their only pre season game, so hopefully wont be too undercooked for the game against Worcester next week. Would expect the starting team for that to be similar to team that lines up in the first half here:

15 Tom Parton, 14 Kyle Rowe, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Terrence Hepetema , 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Agustin Creevy, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Matt Rogerson(c), 7 Ben Donnell, 8 Albert Tuisue.

Ben Loader, Mafi and van Rensburg didn't travel so presumably aren't fit. In terms of players to watch this season, it wouldn't surprise me if Donnell gets the gig at 7 in front of SOB. Both replacement centres (Williams and Cokanasiga) looked very dangerous. Good to have Williams back after missing almost all of last season with injury as he's a talent. Ben White had a very good debut off the bench too and I wouldn't be surprised to see him and Phipps sharing starts in a similar way to the way Meehan and Phipps have in the past.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Sun 12 Sep 2021, 10:05 am

[quote

If Augustus can do for Saints what Billy Cheeseburger did for England in his prime, then all that speed we have in the backs will have a huge impact.  What do you think of Furbank or Grayson?  Or Furbank or Freeman or Tuala?  I still think Francis is the backs linchpin for the defense, so how do we fit him in?  We actually have options...........[/quote]

If we want to use pace, then Furbank, but if we play a steadier game occasionally injecting that pace then Grayson. I sort of agree with you about Francis, he is massively underrated. He has never let England down when called upon, but he is not the sort of player to set the world alight. With Grayson, possibly use Francis and bench Litchfield, but I think Hutchinson marshals the defence quite well so possibly bench Francis to come on if things need tightening up at the end, which they usually do.

At 15 Freeman, Tuala is very good and probably more powerful, but he doesn't have the pace of Freeman or the instinct to be in the right place when the line break is made. Freeman in this one and only regard reminds me of Ashton, always sniffing around the break and always there to take the pass when it is on.

Great to be blessed with so many extremely good options across the backs.

We haven't see Willemsen yet, he makes Augustus look small, 6'6" and 20st 2ib (1.98m and 128kg to the younger generation) and still only 20/21. Been playing league in Aus so will probably take some time, a lot of Laws to digest before he is let loose and I notice only on a Senior Academy contract.

We also signed Nansen over the summer, ex-Blues and N. Harbour lock with a reputation for hard carrying who again can play across the back row. He should be in his prime at 28 so we may see him soon as well. He spent time with Stade, Brive and Dragons so perhaps out Welsh contingent can give us a bit of info on him.
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Post by formerly known as Sam Sun 12 Sep 2021, 6:40 pm

I mean Francis very nearly let England down and really should have had a red card seconds into the game Vs USA. He was a lucky boy to get away with that. Very handy club man but was mediocrity personified at international level. I'm sure Saints are delighted by is international days are done he can help guide the younger guys at 10 when Biggar is away.

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Post by geoff999rugby Sun 12 Sep 2021, 6:52 pm

Watch the first half of Saracens Ulster - Tomkins was a very lucky man.
If Roberts had landed on his head that would have been Red not Yellow, he drove Roberts into the ground

Also Saracens back play was very predictable - that needs to improve big time.
As soon as Ulster matched them physically they seemed bereft of ideas.

Much better referring
The commentator was hopeless.

Didn't understand that sealing off was an offense.
Also talked of the Northern Ireland team - Wrong.
Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal are not in Northern Ireland

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Post by Poorfour Sun 12 Sep 2021, 8:25 pm

So, pre-season games are done and dusted.

I’m pretty happy with Quins’ performances, despite the score line against Leinster. In most respects they were pretty evenly matched, but Quins tried a few too many miracle passes when it wasn’t on, and Leinster took their chances well.

Quins have been lacking several of their biggest guns - Marler, Louw and Smith are the most obvious ones, but Symons, Lewies and Chisholm also weren’t in the squad. That’s a quarter of the squad from the final.

The positives I’ve taken from the two matches have been:
- When there’s been a critical mass of senior players on the pitch, Quins have played well
- A couple of players who were ok squad players last season look to have progressed - Dino Lamb in particular has added some bulk and now looks far more effective
- Several long term injured players are back and looking pretty good - Kerrod and the Academy hookers in particular
- Fin Baxter looks ready to make his breakthrough to the 1st XV; I could see him ending it as the regular backup to Marler
- The new recruits, particularly Allan, look to have integrated well
- Depth. It’s not quite there yet, but for the first time in a while I can look at a team sheet missing a couple of regular starters and still feel confident.

Work ons:
- Overplaying. The miracle isn’t always on (at least not when Smith isn’t on the pitch), and Quins need to know when to just recycle the ball and try something else.
- Defence. Still porous. But it’s often the easiest thing to fix, and the mix-and-match approach to substitutions always makes it hard to judge in preseason
- Missing players. We’ve not had an injury update, and it’s not clear how much of the season we’ll be without Louw and Smith.

I’ve not read any of the pundits’ pre-season predictions, but from second hand accounts it seems that most of them are favouring Saracens and the rest of last season’s top 4 ahead of Quins. Statistically, that’s a sensible call. But this squad has plenty of experience of defying expectations.
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Post by Highland Shaun Mon 13 Sep 2021, 3:14 am

Any idea where to get Gallagher Premiership highlights this coming season as supposedly, channel 5 aired their last ever one the Monday after Quins won the title Sad Sad Sad? I am not really wanting to subscribe to BT Sport if I can avoid it because I won't watch anything apart from premiership highlights?

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Mon 13 Sep 2021, 5:11 am

Highland Shaun wrote:Any idea where to get Gallagher Premiership highlights this coming season as supposedly, channel 5 aired their last ever one the Monday after Quins won the title Sad Sad Sad? I am not really wanting to subscribe to BT Sport if I can avoid it because I won't watch anything apart from premiership highlights?

Pretty sure you can get highlights/extended highlights on the Prem website the Monday after the games???

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Post by Highland Shaun Tue 14 Sep 2021, 12:08 am

Got an email back from Premiership Rugby saying that they are still awaiting confirmation of broadcasting rights so I presume that means that it could be on a free to air channel, or am I misunderstanding the email lol. Its on BT Sports from 1530-1700 next Monday but I've already told them I'm not subscribi to BT just to watch highlights shows lol.

Hopefully they get their confirmation before next Monday lol.

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Post by doctor_grey Tue 14 Sep 2021, 11:18 pm

Looking again at the player transfers for this upcoming season, despite not correcting their biggest deficiency (loosehead), Saints did do well.  With no player losses of impact, Saints brought in:
Karl Wilkins from Béziers
Juarno Augustus from Stormers
Brandon Nansen from Brive
Frank Lomani from Melbourne Rebels
Courtnall Skosan from SA Lions

More quality beef for the pack, a playmaking 9, and a wing who knows the try line.  Not everyone is available yet, and not everyone will pan out as expected, but this could be, dare I say (yes, dare!) a good year in The Gardens.   It's all down to whether the coach can coach, not a foregone conclusion....

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Post by GeordieFalcon Wed 15 Sep 2021, 9:34 am

Faint rumours emerging that Burrell is out for the season for us after limping off in the first pre season game...

That would be a blow.

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Post by formerly known as Sam Wed 15 Sep 2021, 9:47 am

doctor_grey wrote:Looking again at the player transfers for this upcoming season, despite not correcting their biggest deficiency (loosehead), Saints did do well.  With no player losses of impact, Saints brought in:
Karl Wilkins from Béziers
Juarno Augustus from Stormers
Brandon Nansen from Brive
Frank Lomani from Melbourne Rebels
Courtnall Skosan from SA Lions

More quality beef for the pack, a playmaking 9, and a wing who knows the try line.  Not everyone is available yet, and not everyone will pan out as expected, but this could be, dare I say (yes, dare!) a good year in The Gardens.   It's all down to whether the coach can coach, not a foregone conclusion....

It sort of ends up with;

Adendorf -> Augustus
Isiekwe -> Nansen
Bean -> Wilkins
Taylor -> Lomani
Mallinder -> Skosan

It's pretty good work from the Saints recruitment team really. I'm not sure how much notice there was in the Taylor and Mallinder decisions as I'm sure they'd have been hoping both would have stayed longer term but internationally capped replacements at I assume economically efficient prices is good business. I like Adendorf he looked a good fit for Saints but Boyd didn't and a more traditional big man at the back of the pack is what Saints have been missing. Nansen will do well to love up to Isiekwe though that was always likely to be a tough player to replace. They'll probably do well, let's just hope they fall apart in the derby games.

Geordie, is Orlando off with the Pumas as well? Would be a blow to lose both of those key centres early doors. Will put a lot of pressure on Connon and Ludock to lead the backline. At least if Brown is fit to play 15 he'll add a wealth of experience in arranging the defence.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Wed 15 Sep 2021, 9:58 am

Yeah Orlando is with Argentina.

I do like Wakecoke as a centre...and hes really going to have to step up in the midfield if it is true about Burrell....but it leaves a little short of muscle in the midfield.

We have a lot of might midgets...shall we say, aside from young Obonna, but he's being introduced on the wing so far....

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Post by GeordieFalcon Yesterday at 10:45 am

Mark Wilson also had a knee op recently so out until after November....

MIke Brown fit for Sunday apparently.

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Post by Poorfour Yesterday at 11:13 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:Mark Wilson also had a knee op recently so out until after November....

MIke Brown fit for Sunday apparently.

I'm quite looking forward to him playing against Quins - sort of allows him a proper send off that he didn't get last year.

In other news, the Telegraph has reported that Marcus Smith has been given dispensation not to take the full 10 weeks break after the Lions, on account of him being criminally underused in a series that was crying out for a bit of invention only playing one not very difficult match. He should be back for Bristol's visit to the Stoop, which promises to be a very tasty match indeed.
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