DEVON and Cornwall county teams could be strengthened next year by players from Plymouth Albion.
The counties have not been able to select anyone from Albion for the past couple of seasons due to a change in the rules that banned contracted Championship or Premiership players taking part in the Bill Beumont Cup.
However, Albion’s relegation from the Championship to National One does mean their players could be selected for county rugby in the 2015/16.
Director of rugby Graham Dawe, who is the current Cornwall coach and former Devon boss, has said Plymouth would considering releasing players for county rugby.
“If it is felt appropriate for the development of the players, then yeah, but it has to be appropriate,” said Dawe.
Devon, under Dawe, used a lot of young Albion players and they were successful, reaching six finals between 2000 and 2008.
However, Devon have struggled without the use of Plymouth players. They have not won a game since 2010.
On Saturday, Devon entertain Surrey at Okehampton in Division Two, but that match takes something of a back seat in terms of West Country rugby with Cornwall facing a winner-takes-all Division One South clash with Hertfordshire at Redruth.
The victorious team at the Recreation Ground will reach the final at Twickenham.
Cornwall are hoping to achieve that feat for the third year running, but Hertfordshire have also been to the final twice in the last four years, winning the competition in 2012.
And the visitors will be able to select more players who have featured at a higher level in recent years. All of Cornwall’s squad spent last season playing at level four or below.
“It is a big match,” said Dawe. “It is going to be a real challenge.
“We have got to try and impose our fluid game on them and see what they come up with defensively.”
Dawe is hoping the Duchy crowd can play their part on Saturday. It is likely there will be bumper turnout at Redruth to try and cheer Cornwall on to victory.
Cornwall make just one change to their starting line-up that claimed a hard-earned win at Kent last weekend, with Launceston’s Jon Dawe coming in on the wing for Saltash’s Max Venables.
Devon, meanwhile, are forced to make a number of changes to their team as they look for pride against a Surrey side that have already swept aside Somerset and North Midlands.
Ivybridge centre Lewis Paterson, Taunton back Oli Massey-Birch, Brixham centre Tom McClean and Newton Abbot lock Matt Templeton are among the players not available for tomorrow’ match at Okehampton.
Meanwhile, former Albion coach James Shanahan will captain East Counties in their big game at Northumberland on Saturday.
Shanahan is available to play county rugby, despite being contracted to Albion until April, as he must have been registered as a player with Old Albanian prior to the transfer deadline. He did play for them in a league match against Ealing in December.
Devon: Tom Goodman (Brixham), Matt Crosscombe (Brixham), Dean Squire (Brixham), Kevin Dennis (Newton Abbot), Harvey Ridgeway (Exmouth), Joe Simmonds (Teignmouth), Jordan Petherbridge (Barnstaple), Russell Morris (Brixham), Dean Avery (Newton Abbot), Mark Manton (Taunton), Ben Turner (Taunton), Matt Gohl (Barnstaple), Jack Rouse (Exmouth), Scott Puleston (Brixham), Sam Thomas (Brixham). Reps: Chey Bryce (Brixham), Will Cole (Newton Abbot), George Wilson (Ivybridge), Kier Murphy (Tavistock), Jack Bond (Newton Abbot), Dom Loomes (Ivybridge), Tom White (Newton Abbot)
Cornwall: Billy Searle (Launceston), Jon Dawe (Launceston), Jake Murphy (Redruth), Nielson Webber (Redruth), Robin Wedlake (Redruth), Lewis Webb (Taunton), Matt Shepherd (Launceston), Rupert Freestone (Clifton), Jamie Salter (Launceston), Craig Williams (Redruth), Tony Whittle (Camborne), Ben Hilton (Launceston), Chris Fuca (Redruth), George Jones (Penryn), Kyle Marriott (Redruth, capt). Reps: Christian Judge (Launceston), Tommy Phillips, James Goldsworthy (Camborne), Sam Parsons (Redruth), Barry-John Chapman (Launceston), Damien Cook (Redruth), David Mankee (Camborne)
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