TEESSIDE captain Gary Ient has been hit by a “double whammy” putting together his team to take on Yorkshire Inter District Union leaders Halifax-Huddersfield at Eaglescliffe on Sunday.
The match coincides with both club championships and the Teesside Trophy which some players have chosen ahead of the union tussle.
However, Ient still feels he has a team capable of helping heal the wounds of their last match when they were beaten 29-7 by Harrogate.
The presence of Eaglescliffe’s Tom Smith will certainly give them a lift following his recent success in the North Yorkshire and South Durham championship.
Ient also has four members of the team able to call on local knowledge – Smith, Neil Hunter-Smith, Stephen Alexander and David Lupton.
Completing the team are Jason Elliot (Saltburn), Josh Thompson (Billingham), Elliot Butterworth and Jack Ewbank (Middlesbrough), Adam Bates (Blackwell Grange), Nat Poole and Aaron Mcmanus (Darlington), and Brad Hildreth (Billingham).
Opposite number Dave Pullen has his own headahces with five of his top eight from the last game – a 25-11 home defeat of champions York – not involved at Eaglescliffe.
“It’s our youngest side we’ve put out this season – but a young side which is still capable of winning,” he said.
“We’ve got some good lads who played in the junior ranks last year, and played in an event at Eaglescliffe, so we’ve got three of the team who have experience of the course.
“It’s the beauty of having the squad. If we win the league, as we want to do, it won’t be a 12-man team that have won it, it will be a squad of players.
“The incentive to the players coming in is to keep things going with us being top.”
Juniors Elliot Lister (Bradley Hall) and Tom Hunt (Meltham) take their place in a side looking to make it four wins out of four as does Josh Morton (Huddersfield), who only moved last year into the senior ranks.