HOOKER Rupert Freestone is set to miss Plymouth Albion’s next two matches after his call-up to the England Students squad.
Freestone, who is studying for a degree in Bristol, is in the England 30-man party for their games against France in Lyon on April 2 and against Ireland in Dublin on April 9.
Those are the same dates as Albion play Ampthill and Wharfedale in National One.
Cornwall player Freestone has been a key member of Albion’s squad that have won 13 of their last 14 matches. He has started all the club’s games since Hartpury away on December 19.
“I’m disappointed I will be away for a couple of weeks, but you can’t turn down the opportunity to play for your country,” said Freestone, who travels down to Plymouth from Bristol two or three nights a week to train.
“I did have to have quite a long conversation with (director of rugby) Graham (Dawe), more for advice than anything.
“I didn’t know what he thought I should do because obviously JP (James Penman) will probably come straight into the team or Deano (Dean Brooker). I did not really want to surrender the shirt because if either of them come in and play well, which I’m sure they will, then that is going to affect my chances of playing for the rest of the season.
“But, fingers crossed, I will come back from two weeks away and I will manage to get back into the team by the end of the season, but obviously it is a risk. However, like I said, you can’t turn it down.
“We’ve had a great run and I don’t want to leave a winning team, but that’s life.”
Albion have also lost backs Ethan Ford and Jake Murphy in the past week. Ford has returned to Australia and Murphy has broken his hand. Seti Raumakita is also likely to be needed by the Royal Navy, which will leave Plymouth’s options limited for the next few games.