The Cornish Pirates have been rewarded for reaching the last two RFU Championship finals with all three of their selected players due to start tomorrow for Championship XV against the touring New Zealand Maoris, writes Dick Straughan.
Pirates skipper Gavin Cattle will lead the team in the match at Castle Park, Doncaster (12.05pm) with prop Alan Paver and flanker Phil Burgess joining him.
Nine of the 12Championship clubs are represented in the match day squad and Pirates head coach Ian Davies, who is acting alongside Diccon Edwards (Leeds) as an assistant to the team`s head coach Mike Rayer (Bedford Blues), praised the work ethic in the camp.
"I've been equally impressed by the speed at which the RFU Championship XV squad have come together as a team," he said. "These guys are used to playing opposite each other week in week out in the RFU Championship, and now they're lining up next to each other. They have bonded very quickly and there is a strong team environment around camp."
The NZ Maoris began their tour on Tuesday night losing to Leicester Tigers at Welford Rd and conclude the three-match schedule against Canada at Oxford University's Iffley Rd ground next Friday.
RFU Championship Team: Mama (Doncaster), Crane (Nottingham), Streather (Nottingham), Hayter (Moseley), Bassett (Bedford), Roberts (Bristol), Cattle (capt) (Cornish Pirates); Irish (Bristol), Vickers (Plymouth), Paver (Cornish Pirates), Hannay (Jersey), Rouse (Nottingham), Rowan (Leeds), Burgess (Cornish Pirates), Pienaar (Moseley). Replacements: Stagg (Rotherham), Davies, Tomaszczyk (Newcastle), Green (Leeds), Burrows (Leeds), Baldwin (Bedford), Sharpe (Bedford), Atkinson (Bedford).