Mark Whitehead is confident Huddersfield YMCA can overcome a front-row crisis and return to winning National III North ways at home to Sheffield Tigers on Saturday.
The men from Laund Hill were left ruing a missed opportunity as they slipped to a 31-28 defeat at Burnage last weekend, despite being the better team for much of the contest.
But to add to the YMCA’s pain on the day, they lost another prop in the sizeable shape of Chris Moore with a hand injury.
Moore joins fellow front-rowers Sam Slater (knee) and Josh Wrafter (work commitments) on the unavailable list this weekend, meaning player-coach Whitehead’s side are stretched to the limit up front.
And with half-back Ritchie Hawkyard once again missing due to his Swinton Lions pre-season commitments, Whitehead admits the time has come for everyone to step up.
“It’s going to be a real test for our pack this weekend,” said Whitehead, who starts in the back row against the South Yorkshire side.
“To be without three experienced front-row forwards is bound to test any squad, so it’s up to everyone to make sure we overcome their absence as well as we can. I’m sure we will.
“The adjustments we’ve had to make have worked well in training, but scrum machines obviously don’t bite back like real teams do!
“But we’re looking forward to seeing everyone rise to the challenge and prove we’ve still got it in us to achieve a positive result in what are very testing circumstances.”
Whitehead is also confident the backs can rise to the occasion without the inspirational Hawkyard.
“We don’t know how many more times we’re going to have Titch, because Swinton don’t seem over-keen on him playing for us,” added Whitehead, who welcomes back winger Lloyd Bentley following a bout of concussion.
“It would obviously be great to be able to play him on a weekly basis, particularly as Ed Barber’s out until Christmas with his knee problem.
“But Chris Clarke is starting to make a very positive impression in what’s a new role for him. He’s getting better with every game he plays, and it’s a credit to him with how well he’s adjusted to the switch in position from a rugby league back-row forward to a rugby union fly-half.
“Even though we are having to field a relatively makeshift side, I definitely know it’s good enough to get us the win.”
Huddersfield YMCA: Murphy, Hill, Stu Dyke, Bell, Housley, Whitehead, Hodge, Lumb; Wilson, Clarke; Bentley, Van Rooyen, Ryder, Bulloch; Stead. Subs: Watson, Dyson, Smith.