Plymouth Albion / Rugby

Collier and Freestone to make their first Albion starts of the season against Old Albanian

Rupert Freestone and Dan Pullinger both come into Albion's starting line-up to face Old Albanian

Rupert Freestone and Dan Pullinger both come into Albion’s starting line-up to face Old Albanian

DAN COLLIER and Rupert Freestone will make their first starts of the season on Saturday when Plymouth Albion meet James Shanahan’s Old Albanian side at Brickfields in National One (3pm).

The forwards pair were key players for Albion last season but have had to be patient so far this term, just featuring from the replacements’ bench.

However, they are brought into the front-five for Saturday’s first league meeting between Albion and Old Albanian.

Plymouth’s team selectors have made five changes to the starting XV that narrowly beat Esher last weekend.

Dan CollierCollier replaces Exeter Chiefs’ Sam Skinner at lock, Freestone takes over the hooker’s jersey from Tom Cowan-Dickie, Dan Pullinger comes in at tight-head prop for Billy Keast, Dan Williams takes over from Rupert Cooper at flanker and Cameron Setter returns at scrum-half in place of youngster Jack Maunder.

On the bench, Albion bring back Jamie Salter, Dean Squire and Ed Holmes, who was unavailable last weekend.

Maunder, Skinner, Cooper and Sam Nixon drop out of the squad altogether.

Albion and newly-promoted Old Albanian have both won three out of their opening four matches.

Plymouth have overcome Cambridge (23-18), Rosslyn Park (26-20) and Esher (21-19).

Old Albanian’s wins have come against Blaydon (35-3), Cambridge (36-34) and Rosslyn Park (18-13).

OA’s boss Shanahan had two seasons as head coach at Albion, having taken over from Nat Saumi in the summer of 2013.

He left Brickfields at the end of March last year, with the club at the foot of the Championship and having got into major financial trouble.

Shanahan immediately returned to OA’s, who were in a relegation battle themselves. 

The 39-year-old could not keep the Hertfordshire side from dropping into National Two South after a points deduction. However, he guided them straight back to the third tier of English rugby via the National Two play-offs, having finished as runners-up behind his former club Cambridge last season.

Shanahan is still playing and has made three appearances this term, including two starts.

He is not the only player to have featured by both Old Albanian and Albion in recent years. Lawrence Rayner, Max Crumpton, Tom Jubb and Alex Brown have also featured in at least one league game for both clubs.

Albion: 15 Matt Shepherd, 14 Matt Crosscombe, 13 Seti Raumakita, 12 Joe Simmonds, 11 Robin Wedlake, 10 Kieran Hallett, 9 Cameron Setter, 1 Will Norton, 2 Rupert Freestone, 3 Dan Pullinger, 4 Nile Dacres, 5 Dan Collier, 6 Dan Williams, 7 George Mills, 8 Herbie Stupple. Reps: Billy Keast, Tom Cowan-Dickie, Jamie Salter, Dean Squire, Ed Holmes.

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