Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Kiwi forward Penman close to Plymouth Albion comeback

James Penman

JAMES PENMAN is hoping he may be fit to make his Plymouth Albion comeback this weekend when they travel to Cinderford in National One.

The New Zealand-born hooker has not featured since suffering a serious calf injury against Loughborouugh Students on December 12.

Penman admitted it felt like he had been shot in the back of his leg when his calf went in the first half of that match at Brickfields.

However, the experienced front-rower says he now sees some light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’m pretty close now,” he said. “I have been working hard every day.

“It is quite frustrating as you just want to come back and doing everything, but I know I’ve just got to be patient.

“However, hopefully, if all goes well in training, I will be able to make myself available this weekend or next. I’m pretty excited.”

The former Cambridge player started 11 of Albion’s opening 14 league matches, but he knows he is going to have to work really hard to get back in the team after the club’s recent good form. Graham Dawe’s side have won nine of their last 10 matches to move up to fourth in the National One table.

“The boys have been doing outstandingly well,” said Penman. “Everyone in the forward pack, especially, has been playing well in some adverse conditions.

“I will do everything I can my end to try and get back into the team. I will try and make sure I am as fit as can be.

“Looking on the bright side of being injured, I’ve not been taking contact for six weeks. Although I have not been able to run around 100 per cent, I have still been working really hard on my fitness with things like rowing.”

Competition for places in Albion’s team has been hotting up in recent months as results have improved. And even key players like Jake Murphy, Dan Collier, Ed Holmes, Jarrad Hayler, Ethan Ford and Tom Putt have not been able to walk straight back into the team after missing games.

Penman, who will have to try and dislodge Rupert Freestone from the number two jersey, feels it is good that nobody is guaranteed a place.

“It makes you play better when you have a starting position and also when you are not in it drives you a little harder to try and get in there,” he said. “I think it’s good all round to have the competition that we’ve got.”

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