Pontypool RFC head coach Leighton Jones has been left frustrated after pre-season disruption has led to a raft of injuries in the squad.
The Welsh Rugby Union had originally told the club to prepare for a return to league rugby in early 2022 and so the coaching team got to work to devise a regime that would allow the players to come back to the game gradually after 18 months away.
However, the club had to abandon that plan after the WRU decided to push the return forward to November 13th, with Maesteg Quins visiting Pontypool Park in the opening fixture of the new 2021-22 WRU Specsavers National Championship season.
That has meant players have had to be rushed back and as a result many have picked up injuries ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Bristol Bears A – the club’s first fixture since February 2020.
“The frustrating point from us going into Sunday is we had the league brought forward with not much notice so that has had an impact on us in our pre-season training,” Jones explained.
“We had pre-season training planned with a full month period of taking up the contact a bit slower and a bit lighter but we have had to rush that along to get boys taking contact for the first time in 18-19 months and unfortunately we have picked up a massive amount of injuries from doing that.
“This is our first game and with sixteen boys out injured, having to borrow players from a club who we work closely with is not ideal preparation.
“For Sunday we are looking to get the boys out and get them match hardened. We’ve got twelve forwards out injured so we are looking at a massive uphill battle.
“We’ve had leaders and big figures in that pack of forwards drop out, we’re probably starting a front row Sunday, which is probably 21 or under so it’s a massive opportunity for them but it is where we are at the moment with injuries
“We are where we are, we’ve had that dumped on our doorstep and we’ve just got to roll our sleeves up and deal with it.”
Pontypool RFC team to play Bristol Bears A:
1. Kyan Best
2. Sam Scarfe
3. Tomas Burnham
4. Curtis Gregory
5. Ashley Sweet
6. Cameron Regan
7. Scott Matthews ©
8. Ieuan Jones
9. Owain Leonard
10. Matthew Jarvis
11. Amosa Nove
12. Kieran Meek
13. Duan Thomas
14. Jay Jones
15. Geraint Walsh