KEVIN Sinfield is back in the Yorkshire Carnegie side and starting for their biggest game of the season.
The former England rugby league captain, who made the switch in codes last November, has faced a three-way battle with Joel Hodgson and Harry Leonard for the Carnegie No10 jersey.
He wasn’t in the squad at all for their last game, the last-minute 34-28 defeat at derby rivals Doncaster Knights, but starts at fly-half for tomorrow’s visit from Championship leaders Bristol.
The West Country side, favourites to earn promotion back to the Premiership, have lost just two league games all season and are 15 points ahead of third-placed Carnegie.
However, Bryan Redpath’s side still harbour hopes of at least chasing down second-placed Doncaster as the top-four battle reaches its climax.
“The Doncaster defeat did hurt the lads and we have been able to look at that game and look at the areas where we let ourselves down,” he said, with no fixture played by the club last weekend.
“Bristol are going to be a big challenge for us, they rightfully sit at the top of the table at present and have a squad that is equal in terms of budget and size to a Premiership squad.
“However, we are back at home and we will be looking to produce the sort of form we did against Cornish Pirates (33-26 win) in our last home game and get back to showing what we can do.”
Redpath makes four changes with Leonard reverting to centre in place of Tom Casson whilst Andy Forsyth replaces Pete Lucock.
In the forwards, James Tideswell takes tighthead Rob O’Donnell’s spot, who is amongst the replacements, whilst Richard Beck is available again after recovering from a head injury.
Looking back on the agonising loss against their Yorkshire rivals, Carnegie scrum-half Chris Pilgrim admitted: “Doncaster was a tough one to take with that bounce of the ball in the dying seconds.
“It was a quite emotional ending and, for me, I was gutted; it took a a couple of days to get over both physically and emotionally.
“We had a week off but came in and refocused in training ahead of this Bristol game.”
Carnegie have lost seven matches in the league but the 30-year-old added: “We’ve picked up more bonus points than anyone else and we’ve never really lost by more than seven points.
“We’re always there or thereabouts and it’s now about tying up the loose ends at the end of games. There’s games when we’re pushing to win that could have gone either way and we’re trying to get our play more linked in between forwards and backs.
“Once we do that we’ll start eking out wins hopefully starting with Bristol on Sunday.”