THE NEW Yorkshire Carnegie era gets underway for real tomorrow as they embark on what is sure to be a testing Championship campaign.
Martyn Wood’s hastily-assembled squad have played three Championship Cup games so far to try and gain some semblance of cohesion following all their off-season strife.
They have suffered three hefty defeats but those fixtures were always considered much-needed preparation towards the league opener against Bedford Blues at Emerald Headingley.
There are four changes to the starting line-up that lost 50-7 – Carnegie scoring their first points of the season – at London Scottish last Friday.
“We have given a lot of people opportunities,” said Wood.
“Some have taken them, some haven’t. Some people have stuff to work on.
“The team we have out there on Sunday is probably about as strong as we can get out there at the moment.
“We’re looking forward to it.”
Up front, James Flynn returns to the starting line-up and Guy Graham comes back in at No 8, with Henri Lavin moving to flanker.
Thom Smith, who is on loan from Leicester Tigers, replaces James Seabrook, who is named on the bench along with Ryan Shaw, the winger who is set to debut after his cross-code switch from Hull KR.
Joe Carlisle starts at centre in place of Zach Kerr while player-coach Joe Ford will operate from No10.
Bedford suffered a surprise 25-12 home Cup defeat to Ampthill last Saturday, the promoted National League side that many expect to be challenging Carnegie to avoid relegation.
“Bedford are a good Championship team,” insisted Wood.
“They will come up here full of confidence.”
After such a sobering Cup run – Carnegie conceded a massive 181 points in just three games – it is understandable why fans may fear the worst in 2019-20.
But Wood maintained; “Training’s been giving me encouraging signs.
“I’m not saying we’re 100 per cent confident but we’ve got a game plan, we’re going to execute it.
“I think we have the players to do that.”