Stirling expects Carnegie to stay bottom until Christmas

Chris Stirling.
Chris Stirling.
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YORKSHIRE Carnegie boss Chris Stirling expects his side still to be at the foot of the table at Christmas, but says funding is in place to make sure the club pull away from the relegation zone in 2019.

They have won just one of their opening five games so far and things aren’t likely to improve any time soon given today they visit Championship favourites London Irish, the team relegated from the Premiership. Where once Carnegie hoped to be challenging for promotion themselves, now their predicament is far different at the other end of the table.

Granted, they have been beset by injuries and have a small squad, but Stirling says that will be remedied imminently.

“We’re massively further down the line now (with signings),” said the Kiwi.

“We’ve been waiting for the board to tell us the funding is in place before we push the button. But it is and the button’s been pushed now.

“We can expect to see some signings announced if not next week then certainly the week after and and it’s exciting times.

“A couple of decisions are going to be made regarding programmes we’ll be putting in place for 2019-2020 and 2020-21.

“Essentially, then, round 10 of this campaign – Doncaster Knights on December 29th – will be the start of our ‘19-’20 season.

“We’re more than likely still going to be bottom post round nine but with the strengthening of the squad I feel we can get up to mid-table from round 10 to 22.

“We’ll have an opportunity to bed some of these new players in before the Doncaster game and the goal will be to gain some momentum in the second half of the season.”

Doncaster, meanwhile, have made two signings of their own ahead of today’s trip to Bedford Blues, who beat Carnegie 28-21 at Headingley on Sunday.

USA prop Paul Mullen arrives from Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks back-row Ciaran Booth also joins, both on dual-registered deals.

They should each debut this afternoon after being named on the bench amid multiple changes to the side that lost 47-22 against Jersey Reds at Castle Park last weekend. Cameron Cowell doesn’t feature due to illness, while Tom Hicks, Paul Jarvis, Will Owen and Joe Sproston all miss out through injury.

Wasps forward Nathan Hughes’s disciplinary hearing will reconvene next Wednesday.

This week’s orginal hearing – for punching against Gloucester last weekend – was postponed when it emerged that the England No 8 tweeted “What a joke” upon learning the verdict.