SEAN MERRICK is set to make his starting debut for Huddersfield YMCA tomorrow, when they take on Pontefracst at Laund Hill in what promises to be another bruising Yorkshire I encounter.
The former Huddersfield RU lock has moved up to the Salendine Nook club this season and will be aiming to get his new side off the mark with a home win (3.00), in what will be their fourth outing since gaining promotion to the top division.
But coach Jody Shaw knows it will be another massive challenge for his side, who are still trying to get up to speed in a League where there are definitely no easy games.
“Pontefract were relegated from North East I last season so are used to playing at a higher level, and they are always a very physical side, and we’re expecting nothing less tomorrow,” said Shaw.
“It is still early doors for us in this division, but last week’s 48-10 defeat at York demonstrated that in this League if you don’t respect the ball and continue to spill it, then you are going to get punished at this level. Hopefully we will learn from that lesson and, starting tomorrow, improve our home form, which is our focus.”
Josh Wrafter comes back into the front row in place of Niall Murphy (who picked up a two-game ban), while Merrick goes into the second row alongside Jack Housley with Stuart Dyke getting a run out at flanker, which the selectors are hoping will ‘beef up’ the pack.
Meanwhile, Stuart Morton is recalled among the backs, where selectors are still trying out their best options following the departure of leading try-scorer Adam Ryder and the operation on Chris Beever – who is well on the road to a call-up after scoring twice last week in the Seconds.
Arron Crabtree is on the bench, alongside Simon Wilson and Fab Leonne-Mazza, whom the coach says in ‘chomping at the bit’ for a first-team chance.
Utility player Sam Hodge sits out tomorrow’s game, after picking up a hamstring injury last week.
YMCA: Smith; Shaw, Bentley, Williams, Morton; Swift, Marshall; Sanderson, Wrafter, Dyke (Ste), Housley, Merrick, Dyke (Stu), Whitehead, Walker. Subs: Wilson, Leonne-Mazza, Crabtree.