YORKSHIRE CARNEGIE coach Gary Mercer has labelled their game at Nottingham as a “must-win” fixture already.
It is only the club’s fifth match of the season but given their frustrating start, the Kiwi is demanding a victory tomorrow.
Carnegie have lost twice, both at home and most disappointingly against Doncaster Knights 32-23 last Sunday, so they are desperate for a reaction.
Mercer, who has subsequently made nine changes, expects to see it at Meadow Lane.
“I had some stern things to say to the players at half-time and after the game last week but from the evidence of that I have seen this week in training, everyone is in a good place heading to Nottingham,” he said.
“We know what is costing us at the moment and we need to sort our discipline out.
“We have got a few more bodies coming back on board this week which has helped to freshen things up.
“We really need to kick on to show people and the rest of the teams in this league just what Yorkshire Carnegie are capable of.
“I’m very positive as a person and we have re-grouped. It’s a game we must win only because we want need to get some momentum into our season.”
Jonah Holmes, such a revelation last season after joining on loan from Wasps, returns for his second stint and comes straight in at full-back.
Centre Rob Vickerman replaces Jon Clarke and David Doherty is back on the wing after illness in place of Christian Georgiou.
Up front, only captain Ryan Burrows and Leeds Beckett University student Liam Edwards retain their place.
Hooker Joe Graham comes in for the suspended Phil Nilsen with props James Tideswell and Ben Harris both recalled. Lock Chris Jones returns after his late withdrawal before the Doncaster game, youngster Josh Bainbridge is promoted to the starting line-up after impressing from the bench on debut last week and blindside Mike Myerscough starts his first game of the season.
“We’ve selected what is probably our strongest side yet,” added Mercer.
“Chris Jones was a big loss last week with his leadership and, obviously, his line-out.
“Also I’m really excited about seeing Jonah Holmes at full-back.
“I’ve heard so many good things about him and seen him on tape.
“The intensity in our training sessions this week has been outstanding while Mike Myerscough looks a real solid ball carrier to complement Ryan Burrows.
“I am looking forward to seeing Rob Vickerman have a run at centre.
“He comes in for Jon Clarke, who has a rest this week after four big efforts in the last month.
“It’s really important how we rest our senior guys. With Vickerman and Holmes, we’ve got some really good counter attack.
“David McIlwaine misses out this week at full-back and he is a bit down with that but he knows he has to work hard and bounce back.
“I’m really excited going forward and it should be a pretty good contest down there as Nottingham are the same as us – two and two.”
Their hosts cold give a debut to George Porter after signing the 25-year-old prop on loan from Worcester Warriors due to Campese Ma’afu’s ban and an injury to Michael Holford.