Yorkshire Carnegie head coach James Lowes is confident his side can quickly eradicate their opening day problems in time for tonight’s Championship game at Nottingham.
Last season’s beaten finalists suffered a surprise 28-12 loss at London Scottish on Saturday, a far from ideal start to the new campaign.
However, there has been mitigating factors for Lowes – starting his second stint in charge – including seeing a warm-up game cancelled due to a raft of injuries to front-row personnel.
They have hit further problems in the build-up to tonight’s fixture at Lady Bay with Stevie McColl, Dan Sanderson and Mike Mayhew all ruled out by injuries and then Brandon Staples also withdrawing having failed to come through yesterday’s final team practice.
Nottingham, meanwhile, enjoyed a 46-10 bonus point win over Rotherham on the opening weekend and will be looking to add to Carnegie’s early woe.
“Nottingham were a tough side to beat last season and it is always a tough place to go because the ground is very open,” said Lowes, Carnegie winning there 24-17 on Boxing Day having earlier narrowly prospered 26-24 at Headingley.
“We need to be far better than we were last week to compete with them.
“They had a big win and will be full of confidence but we are focused on ourselves and improving our game.
“We’ve got a short turn around with it being on Friday night and that is probably good for us after that loss at Scottish.
“We put that game to bed at the start of the week; we were rusty in the first half and didn’t capitalise on some good field position. We have the chance to get things sorted now.”
Carnegie have lost some influential players from last term and are operating on a smaller budget in 2017-18 but Lowes remains confident they can quickly find their feet.
“All you ask as a coach is for the players to go out there and put into practice what you have been working on all pre-season and I thought we did that against Scottish,” he explained.
“We tried some things and I cannot fault the players for their efforts but our execution wasn’t good enough and they know that.
“Having said that, I have every confidence that they will be better for having that 80 minutes under their belts now.”
Teenage winger Louie Brown makes his Championship debut after coming in for McColl.
The 19-year-old, who first appeared against London Irish in the British & Irish Cup last term, hails from Featherstone and is studying at Leeds Beckett University, having started at the university last year.
Up front, Jack Whetton starts in place of Sanderson, Ross Graham takes Mayhew’s place on the bench while Lee Imiolek and Mike Myerscough both return from their own injuries among the replacements where, after Staples’ misfortune, Lewis Wilson now retains his own spot.
Nottingham make minimal changes with tighthead prop Rory Burke and scrum-half Darryl Veenendaal are added to the starting line-up, in the place of the injured former Carnegie player Ben Hooper and Murray McConnell, the latter dropping to the replacements.
Wasps prop David Langley, on dual-registration, could make his Nottingham debut from the bench.