FORMER Plymouth Albion coaches Graham Dawe and Simon Lane will go head-to-head on Saturday when Cornwall host Gloucestershire at Redruth in the opening match of the County Championship (3pm).
Dawe is coach of defending champions Cornwall, while Lane, who was his assistant at Albion, is coach of Gloucestershire.
The pair have worked successfully together for the last 10 months and were at Richmond last weekend to see Albion win 40-39.
“I have built up a lot of trust in him and it will be interesting to see how he puts his Gloucestershire team together.”
Lane will know a lot about Cornwall’s side as it includes eight Albion players – Rupert Freestone, Sam Matavesi, Herbie Stupple, Matt Shepherd, Billy Searle, Robin Wedlake, Jon Dawe and Jake Murphy.
“Simon’s knowledge of the Cornwall players will be an advantage for Gloucestershire but that comes with the territory,” said Dawe.
“Gloucestershire have produced some outstanding individuals and teams over the years and we won’t really know their strengths until they kick-off, but I’m sure Simon will have his side testing our work-rate and defensive capabilities in lots of different areas. Our inside and outside defence will have to be spot on.”
Cornwall have never defended the County Championship. Their victory at Twickenham last May was only their fourth title win.
Last year Cornwall’s team was made up of level four players but this year more than half of their squad have been playing at level three with Albion, who won an impressive 22 out of 30 National One games.
Dawe is aware there is a lot of expectation on his Duchy side this year.
“There’s huge pressure,” said the former England hooker, who has won the County Championships as both a player and a coach with Devon and Cornwall. “But we have to try and feed off it. We know the pressure is on.”
Albion number eight Stupple will finally make his long-awaited Cornwall senior debut on Saturday at Redruth.
Stupple has not been able to wear the black and gold in the County Championship before due to injury and then a change in the rules that made players at levels one and two ineligible.
“I think it has been a long held ambition for Herbie to pull on that shirt,” said Dawe. “We wish him well.”
Stupple will form an impressive-looking back-row with club colleague Matavesi and former Albion captain Kyle Marriott.
“We just have to hope our back-row has a platform to play off,” said Dawe. “It is up to the front five to give us a platform.”
Albion captain Murphy will make his return to action after six weeks out with a broken hand.
“He has been out for a long time, so it might take him a few minutes to get up to speed but he is a class player and, hopefully, he can come up with the goods.”
Cornwall are waiting on the fitness of fly-half Searle, who has been struggling with illness.