Preview: Perkins and Flanagan set for Blues debuts against Bristol

Paul Tupai has been named among the Blues replacements for the trip to Bristol

Paul Tupai has been named among the Blues replacements for the trip to Bristol

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Bedford Blues have included two debutants in their team that heads to face Bristol at Ashton Gate on Sunday afternoon.

Bedford Director of Rugby Mike Rayer gives first competitive starts in a Blues shirt to dual registered Saracens winger George Perkins and lock Mark Flanagan who joined the club from Mont-de-Marsan.

The Blues bench will also include a number of new signings looking to impress against Andy Robinson’s men who were just seconds away from a Premiership return last season.

Jack Culverhouse, Jordan Burns and Piers O’Conor will all wear the Blues jersey for the first time while Myles Dorrian will be pulling it on for his third stint with the Goldington Road club.

The Blues were dealt a blow during training this week when hooker Sam James fractured his ankle but they have been able to call upon near neighbours Ampthill to lend a hand by signing young hooker, and former Blues Academy stalwart, Ben Wilkinson on a short term deal as cover.

Phil Boulton misses out due to severe bruising and swelling to the thigh, Ollie Dodge is nursing a dead leg while Joel Conlon - who went off early during last week’s friendly win over Scarlets - has suffered a medial knee ligament strain.

In better news, Hayden Thompson-Stringer and Nick Fenton-Wells have both recovered from minor knocks to take their places in the team and on the bench respectively. Prop Tom Williams is back in full training along with James Pritchard who had been away on training camp with Canada before his release.

Looking ahead to the game, Rayer said: “We couldn’t have asked for a bigger challenge than Bristol away first up. However we have prepared well in pre-season and the lads are really looking forward to getting the Championship campaign up and running.

“We are going to Ashton Gate to enjoy ourselves and see where we are, and if we have improved as group over the summer.”

Starting line-up:

15. Steffan Jones

14. George Perkins

13. Henry Staff

12. Michael Le Bourgeois

11. Dean Adamson

10. Jake Sharp

9. Pete White

1. Camilo Parilli-Ocampo

2. Charlie Clare

3. James Currie

4. Mike Howard (c)

5. Mark Flanagan

6. Justin Blanchet

7. Josh Buggea

8. Hayden Thompson-Stringer

Replacements:

16. Ben Wilkinson

17. Jack Culverhouse

18. Paul Tupai

19. Nick Fenton-Wells

20. Jordan Burns

21. Myles Dorrian

22. Piers O’Conor