ELEVEN players will be handed full Plymouth Albion debuts tomorrow when the club open their National One campaign at home to Richmond (3pm).
Of Albion’s starting line-up only Cameron Setter, James Penman, Herbie Stupple and Dan Collier, who returned to Plymouth this summer after a three-year absence, have featured in a competitive game for the club before.
Director of rugby Graham Dawe, who celebrates his birthday today, has certainly not been scared to give young players a chance with three 18 year-old Devonians – Harrison Cully, Ollie Dawe and Tom Putt – in their 20-man squad to face Richmond.
Winger Cully (pictured) and prop Ollie Dawe – no relation to the Albion boss – will both start, with Putt, who can cover three positions, getting the nod on the bench ahead of another youngster Billy Searle.
Elliot Bale, who officially joined Albion yesterday after a lengthy trial, will start at fly-half, with Australian Ethan Ford having recovered from injury to take his place at full-back.
However, fellow Aussie Marc Koteczky has lost his race to be fit for the season-opener, as has South African lock David Fisher.
“It’s massively frustrating that they are not available for selection,” said director of ruby Dawe. “But we are really pleased with how the guys that have been selected and the guys on stand-by have trained.”
He added: “All selections are difficult throughout the season, not just on the first week, but you have to make calls and get on with it. Selection next week might be different.”
Albion fans have yet to see dual-registered Exeter Chiefs winger Cully in action as he was unavailable for the pre-season matches.
But Dawe said: “We’re sure he can deliver. He’s a very talented individual who is a great strike weapon on the flank, along with Robin Wedlake.”
Royal Navy player Jarrad Hayler, just 20, has won the battle for the number seven shirt after impressing in pre-season.
“Jarrad’s certainly a tremendous athlete and a very good rugby player,” said Dawe. “And, hopefully, he can learn and develop his game to suit our style.”
Cornwall’s County Championship final match-winner Matt Shepherd will start on the bench after his return to the club folllowing a month in Thailand.
In National One, clubs can only have five replacements, but they can make 10 interchanges.
15 Ethan Ford
14 Harrison Cully
13 Jake Murphy (capt)
12 Tom Bedford
11 Robin Wedlake
10 Elliot Bale
9 Cameron Setter
1 Ollie Dawe
2 James Penman
3 Christian Judge
4 Dan Collier
5 Ed Holmes
6 Herbie Stupple
7 Jarrad Hayler
8 Nile Dacres
Replacements: Rupert Freestone, Dan Pullinger, Andy Chesters, Matt Shepherd, Tom Putt.