AFTER a productive loan spell with Premiership club Wasps, Warren Seals finally gets the chance to prove his worth for Yorkshire Carnegie in the Championship this afternoon.
The South African fly-half joined from part-timers Darlington Mowden Park last summer but had been mainly restricted to Carnegie’s British & Irish Cup campaign.
However, having honed his game with Wasps last month and with injuries and international call-ups hampering Bryan Redpath’s midfield options, he gets to start at inside centre against Cornish Pirates at Headingley today.
Seals has made just one appearance off the bench in the Championship so far against Rotherham Titans back on October 1, his other six appearances coming in the B&I Cup.
He is, therefore, relishing the opportunity to shine for the second-placed club who continue to chase leaders London Irish.
Tom Casson and Andy Forsyth are both sidelined while Max Wright has been away with the England U20s squad for the last month, so the 25-year-old gets his shot.
“It is nice to get an opportunity to play and I’m looking forward to the game against Cornish,” he said, with in-form Carnegie chasing a top-four place having won their last five games in all competitions.
“I am happy to play wherever the team needs me and with Max Wright, Tom Casson and Andy Forsyth all unavailable am happy to switch from fly-half to centre.
“It has been a while since I have played at No 12 but I have played there quite a few times in my career so I know what is needed.
“The time at Wasps kept my match fitness up and that has meant that, when I get a chance like this weekend, I am ready to go.”
Lee Blackett, the former Carnegie centre and Rotherham head coach now backs coach at Wasps, was behind Seals’ move to the Ricoh Arena.
He returned to his former club enquiring about fly-half cover for Wasps’ LV Cup campaign.
Seals made his debut off the bench in a tough defeat at Exeter Chiefs before starting the following week against Ospreys in front of 11,409 fans in Coventry.
He lined up alongside another former Carnegie player, scrum-half Craig Hampson, and kicked two conversions and a penalty in the 31-22 loss.
“It was a good experience and it was nice to carry on getting a few games under my belt after our games in the British & Irish Cup,” he said, having helped steer Carnegie to the quarter-finals of that competition where they face Irish next month.
“It was a very good environment at Wasps; the players are very professional, as you would expect, and are a good bunch of players.
“I was able to pick up tips and experience from those Premiership players and that can only help me going forward.”
Having only signed a one-year deal with Carnegie, Seals knows the importance of catching the eye today as the club get back into action after a free weekend.
Redpath’s side vanquished Rotherham 53-26 last time-out having stormed 42-7 ahead at the interval.
“We were in last week for a few days session, so it wasn’t a week off but it was good to have the break from the gameday fatigue,” added Seals, who is joined by veteran former England lock Dean Schofield – playing for the first time since being injured in October – and fit-again prop Charlie Beech in the starting line-up
“The whole squad is refreshed and ready for Cornish.
“There is a lot of confidence coming from the group too. We will have to see how Saturday’s game unfolds but I am hoping I can add something different into the backline, with an extra kicking option which can hopefully help.
“Any game in this league is tough. We have not looked at Cornish too much; the focus is on our game and we believe if we can execute properly things will go well for us.”
Carnegie head to Jersey next Friday before hosting Irish – the only side they have lost to this season – in that top-of-the-table battle at Headingley on Sunday March 5.