Bassett starts for RFU Championship XV with trio named on the bench

RFU Championship XV. Pic by Shaun Flannery.
RFU Championship XV. Pic by Shaun Flannery.

Only one of the four Bedford Blues backs selected in the RFU Championship squad has been named in the starting XV by head coach Mike Rayer to face the Maori All Blacks at Castle Park on Saturday, kick-off 12.05pm.

Josh Bassett will start on the wing, while Jake Sharpe, Luke Baldwin and Mark Atkinson will all start on the bench.

Nine of the 12 RFU Championship clubs are represented in the starting line-up to face the Maori All Blacks, with Cornish Pirates claiming three of the spots in captain Gavin Cattle, prop Alan Paver and open-side flanker Phil Burgess.

Moseley are represented in the back-row by Ben Piennar and centre Charlie Hayter, while Nottingham claim three players set to face the Haka in the backs through Rhys Crane, Tim Streather and second-row Nic Rouse.

Jersey’s 6ft 5ins second-row Nathan Hannay represents the RFU Championship newcomers, while Mark Irish, who was named RFU Championship Dream XV loosehead prop for two consecutive seasons, starts next to Jon Vickers at hooker.

On the bench is Newcastle Falcons prop Oliver Tomaszczyk, alongside fellow front rows Ted Stagg (Rotherham) and Tom Davies (Doncaster).

Leeds Carnegie duo Calum Green and Ryan Burrows claim their spot on the bench, along with the Blues trio.

The game against the RFU Championship XV is the second in a three-test tour for the Maori All Blacks, having lost to Leicester Tigers on Tuesday in a hard-fought contest at Welford Road.

“Mike, Diccon and I travelled to the game and were obviously impressed with the quality on show.” commented assistant coach Ian Davies.

“However, I’ve been equally impressed by the speed at which the RFU Championship XV squad have come together as a team.

“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.”

Fellow assistant coach Diccon Edwards added: “The team is truly representative of the RFU Championship league.

“There is a nice blend of youth and experience that has become synonymous with the competition and it’s important that we reflect that on the field come Saturday.”

Tickets available via phone on 01302 831388.

RFU Championship XV: M Irish, J Vickers, A Paver, N Hannay, N Rouse, J Rowan, P Burgess, B Piennar, G Cattle (C), T Roberts, J Bassett, C Hayter, T Streather, R Crane, D Mama. Replacements: T Stagg, T Davies, O Tomaszczyk, C Green, R Burrows, L Baldwin, J Sharpe, M Atkinson.