Yorkshire Carnegie’s new director of rugby Phil Davies takes charge for the first time when his side head to Cornish Pirates tomorrow
The battle to avoid relegation starts in earnest now as Carnegie – still without a win in their Championship campaign – look to climb the table.
Davies, the club’s most successful coach when in charge of Leeds Tykes between 1996 and 2006, has been tasked with bringing in the requisite expertise to lead them to safety but also plan for the future.
He was appointed last week following the sacking of Martyn Wood and, so, has had some time to get to work with the squad along with player-coach Joe Ford.
It will be interesting to see if there are any instant improvements but the club will certainly be hoping the Welshman can quickly make his mark.
Although there has been talk of new signings, none have arrived in time for tomorrow’s game although Carnegie will not be rushed into spending their limited funds.
Davies and Ford have, though, made changes to the side that lost against Doncaster Knights before Christmas with four alterations in total.
The experienced Joe Carlisle returns at centre, so Dan Lancaster – one of the club’s most impressive players so far – moves to full-back.
Hooker Louis Musetti returns to the team for the first time since the away game against Hartpury.
He comes into the side for Adam Brown and tighthead Sione Faletau, a try-scorer in that game against Doncaster, comes back into the starting line-up for Gareth Smith who is named as a replacement.
Tom Whitehurst will make his fifth appearance of the season and his first start in the Championship for Carnegie.
On the bench, Leeds Beckett players Will Routledge and Jide Ajayi come in for their debut.
Jarrid Els, the South African-born German international No8 who joined in the summer, will also make his first appearance, having been out with injury since the start of the campaign.
After a dismal start – 13 losses from 13 games in all competitions – Carnegie suffered a big blow last night when second-bottom Bedford Blues did their survival hopes the power of good with a 24-17 win at London Scottish to move 11 points clear of the Leeds side.
But with 15 games still to go, Carnegie can still get out of trouble –if they start making those improvements swiftly.
There were two other games in the Championship last night with relegation-threatened Doncaster Knights losing 34-10 at leaders Newcastle Falcons.
Lock Matt Challinor scored the visitors’ only try in the second half, with centre Charlie Foley converting.
Earlier, fly-half Sam Olver’s penalty had made it 15-3 at the break.
Doncaster remain in tenth position, a point clear of Bedford and 12 ahead of Carnegie.