PLYMOUTH Albion will be without key forwards James Penman and Dan Collier for their long trip to Hull Ionians on Saturday (3pm).
Lock Collier is ruled out of the club’s first National One away game of the season due to a groin injury, while hooker Penman is not fit to play after suffering a nasty cut below his eye against Rosslyn Park last week.
Albion’s director of rugby Graham Dawe, who is already without South African lock David Fisher, admits losing his first choice hooker and line-out jumper is not ideal but he is confident his team can overcome their absence in East Yorkshire.
Rupert Freestone comes in at hooker, with Nile Dacres moving from the back-row to lock and Andy Chesters coming in at six.
The only other change in the pack is at tight-head prop where Christian Judge starts instead of Dan Pullinger.
In the backs, Albion hand a first start to scrum-half Matt Shepherd, while Marc Koteczky comes in at centre having fully recovered from a troublesome heel injury, with Jake Murphy moving to full-back to accommodate the Australian’s return.
Dawe said: “Last week Dan (Collier) won a lot of line-out ball second half against Rosslyn Park, so we are going to have to re-gig how we get first-phase ball.
“Dan will be missed but hopefully Nile can replace him and do equally well.
“With Dave Fisher out it means we are two locks down, but it’s probably the right call not to push Dan into playing this week as he could breakdown totally.
“James Penman took a nasty knock to the head and has had to be pulled out.
“It’s not ideal but we’ve got to get on with it.
“Andy Chester’s comes in for his first start after coming off the bench the last two weeks. He’s got to get a balance between commitment and discipline but I’m sure he will because he’s a good rugby player.”
On the changes in the backs, Dawe said: “Cam Setter’s had two starts and it was always our plan to try and get Matt (Shepherd) a start before the end of the month.
“We also wanted to introduce Marc (Koteczky) at inside centre, which is his most comfortable position and where his direct running, kick game and passing game can be effective.
“Jake Murphy is equally confident at 15 as well as 13 and with Marc’s right foot and Jake’s left we should have a good balance.”
Young Tom Putt misses out this week with fellow teenager Billy Searle, who has yet to make his debut for the club, given the nod on the bench.
Albion have never played Hull before, but Dawe will not be taking them lightly. They beat Hartpury College 37-32 in their opening home game before narrowly losing 23-16 at Richmond last week.
“They are certainly going to be a tough nut to crack,” said Dawe. “We are under no illusions about that.
“It’s a long trip and not ideal for the first away game but I’d rather go to Hull in September than in January.
“Hopefully, we’ll get a warm welcome and we can produce the goods.”
After narrowly losing 16-15 at home to Rosslyn Park last Saturday, Dawe says his team really want to come back with at least four points this weekend.
“It’s very important to try and get that win,” he said. “That’s what we are going for.
“We’ll certainly be trying our best.”
Dawe admitted it was too soon to throw new French signing Gregory Sebastien into the squad.
“It would be unfair on him as he does not know our plays or defensive system,” said Dawe.
Seti Raumakita and Dean Brooker could join Searle in making their league debuts for Albion this weekend after being named among the replacements.
15 Jake Murphy (capt)
14 Ethan Ford
13 Tom Bedford
12 Marc Koteczky
11 Robin Wedlake
10 Elliot Bale
9 Matt Shepherd
1 Ollie Dawe
2 Rupert Freestone
3 Chris Judge
4 Nile Dacres
5 Ed Holmes
6 Andy Chesters
7 Jarrard Hayler
8 Herbie Stupple
Reps: Dean Brooker, Dan Pullinger, Seti Raumakita, Cameron Setter, Billy Searle