IVYBRIDGE winger George de Mendonca will get the chance to push his Plymouth Albion claims on Saturday against Championship side Bedford Blues (5pm).
The 20-year-old, who has spent the summer on trial at Brickfields, has been named in Albion’s starting line-up for the pre-season home match.
De Mendonca (pictured) came on for the final six minutes of Albion’s opening warm-up game at Jersey on August 8, but did not get any chance to show what he could do with the ball in his hand.
“George is one who gets a chance this week. We are hoping he can adapt to this level, but he will have some pretty good players against him on Saturday.”
Other players to be handed their first Albion starts against Bedford are teenage fly-half Billy Searle, hooker Dean Brooker, prop Christian Judge and new South African forward David Fisher.
Royal Navy players Jarrad Hayler and Seti Raumakita, who have spent the summer training with Plymouth, are given another chance to impress, while Albion will also have a look at Nile Dacres at number eight.
Dacres, Albion’s opening try scorer in their 43-15 defeat at Jersey, has been handed the role of captain for the game.
Dawe said: “We have created a leadership group and any of that group should be able to captain the side at any time.”
Cameron Setter skippered Albion against Jersey and Dawe added: “We are just trying to get as many people used to that role as possible in pre-season.”
Dawe has named experienced players like Dan Collier, Marc Koteczky and James Penman on the bench.
He has seen them play at Championship level and so knows what they can do, while other players will get the chance to start in Albion’s other game on Saturday against Weston-super-Mare, rather than make a replacement appearance against Bedford. That team to face Weston-super-Mare will be announced tomorrow.
Dawe refused to be drawn on whether he has already got a starting XV in his head for the first league match against Richmond on September 5
Instead he said: “It is a very fluid situation. Some players have put their hands up already and some are certainly working hard to put themselves forward.”
Dawe is keen to see South African lock Fisher play his first game in English rugby. The 22-year-old only arrived in the country last week.
“It is a big ask for him to come straight in and start the game,” said Dawe. “But I’m sure he’ll enjoy the experience.”
The Albion boss is again without new scrum-half signings Matt Shepherd and Jack Maunder. Shepherd is still away on holiday, while dual-registered Maunder, who is now back from England Under-18 duty in South Africa, is with his parent club Exeter Chiefs.
Although not seeing them in match action has not been ideal for Dawe, he did say: “I have seen them both in training and they have both been pretty hot.”
Bedford were the only team Albion played every season during their 13-year stay in English rugby’s second tier between 2002 and 2015. The clubs also met in the Powergen Shield final at Twickenham in 2005 and in the promotion play-off group stages in 2009-10.
Dawe is pleased that the two clubs are continuing their good relationship this weekend.
“There is a nice association between the two clubs,” said the Albion boss. “We were in the league a long time together and we are quite good friends.
“I have also known Mike Rayer (Bedford’s director of rugby) for many years, since he was playing at Cardiff, and the two clubs have been at the forefront of the Championship over the years.
“It is nice to keep these connections. We are grateful to Bedford for taking time out to play us. I think they are spending some time at Marjons while they are down here.”
He added: “Bedford are a team that can change their game in different circumstances and I imagine this weekend will be a very similar test to what we experienced at Jersey.”
Bedford could include former Albion back Elliot Clements-Hill, who is on trial at the Blues after leaving Brickfields this summer, in their squad.
Albion have named ex-Blues centre Tom Bedford in their starting line-up, but trialist fly-half Elliot Bale, who started his career at Goldington Road, is not included. He is expected to feature against Weston-super-Mare, having started at Jersey.
15 Ethan Ford
14 Seti Raumakita
13 Jake Murphy
12 Tom Bedford
11 George de Mendonca
10 Billy Searle
9 Cameron Setter
1 Rupert Freestone
2 Dean Brooker
3 Christian Judge
4 David Fisher
5 Ed Holmes
6 Herbie Stupple
7 Jarrad Hayler
8 Nile Dacres (capt)
Replacements: Ollie Dawe, James Penman, Dan Pullinger, Dan Collier, Ben Hawley, Marc Koteczky, Tom Putt, Robin Wedlake, Harrison Cully.
* ALBION’S game with Bedford is one of four live matches that will be played on the Brickfields pitch on Saturday as the National One club host a festival of rugby.
An Albion development team will play Weston-super-Mare at 1.15pm before Plymouth Combination sides Old Techs and Tamar Saracens lock horns in a pre-season clash. Then after Albion’s match with Bedford at 5pm, fellow Combination team DHSOB will play Cornish side Camelford at 7pm.
Albion will also be showing England’s international match with France in their bars, guaranteeing nearly 10 hours of rugby. Admission for the day is £10 for adults, with under-16s getting in free.