Cornish Pirates trio prepare to take on All Blacks
Three Cornish Pirates will start for the RFU Championship XV when they take on the Maori All Blacks today at Castle Park.
Scrum-half Gavin Cattle will lead the side, with Pirates prop Alan Paver and open-side flanker Phil Burgess alongside him.
Plymouth Albion hooker Jon Vickers has been handed a starting role, while former Cornish All Blacks and Sidmouth second-row Nathan Hannay, now with Jersey, has also been selected in a squad featuring players from nine of the 12 Championship clubs.
Pirates head coach Ian Davies and Diccon Edwards have assisted head coach Mike Rayer with the team selection. Davies said: "Mike, Diccon and I travelled to the game and were obviously impressed with the quality on show.
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"However, I've been equally impressed by the speed at which the squad have come together as a team. These guys are used to playing opposite each other week in, week out in the RFU Championship, and now they're lining up next to each other. They have bonded very quickly and there is a strong team environment around the camp."
The game against the RFU Championship XV is the second in a three-match tour for the Maori All Blacks, having lost to Leicester Tigers on Tuesday in a hard-fought contest at Welford Road.
Fellow assistant coach Edwards said: "There is a nice blend of youth and experience that has become synonymous with the competition and it's important that we reflect that on the field come Saturday."
RFU Championship XV: Mama; Crane, Streather, Hayter, Bassett; Roberts, Cattle (capt); Irish, Vickers, Paver; Hannay, Rouse; Rowan, Burgess, Piennar. Replacements: Stagg, Davies, Tomaszczyk, Green, Burrows, Baldwin, Sharpe, Atkinson.