Hartpury RFC welcome two debutants, from opposite ends of the experience scale, into the match-day 22 for tomorrow’s Championship Cup fixture with the Bedford Blues.
Fijian international and former Gloucester, Toulouse and Montpelier star, Akapusi Qera, is clear to play after obtaining the necessary visas during the week. His availability will be a massive boost to the club as he continues his preparations to play in the 2019 RWC in Japan, particularly after Christmas when the more important business of Green King IPA Championship rugby is resumed.
Also included, on the bench, is 17-year old Stephen Varney. The youngster has had an impressive season in the successful Hartpury College AASE-winning team and is definitely viewed as a player with a promising future. A lively and pacey scrum-half, a try-scorer in last week’s AASE final win over Beechen Cliff of Bath, Varney plays with a confidence that should stand him in good stead going forward.
Steve Leonard continues his comeback in the centre, after successfully completing 40 minutes in last week’s game at London Irish, while Luke Cozens returns at fly half.
Joe Morris, dual registered from Worcester Warriors, is back at tight head following his recent absence with the Oxford University team that recorded a convincing victory in last week’s Varsity Match at Twickenham. Front row resources are further bolstered by the naming of experienced loose-head and another former Kingsholm man, Dan Murphy, among the replacements.
Iain Grieve is not quite ready to return against the Blues but Tom Pashley, outstanding in both recent games versus the Pirates, is available and takes the Number 8 jersey.
Tomorrow’s game kicks off at the slightly earlier than usual time of 2pm, in line with competition regulations.