JOSH BAINBRIDGE is back from his brief stint with Bath to help a new-look Yorkshire Carnegie bid to gather some much-needed form in the Championship Cup.
Carnegie have strong links with the top-flight club and the talented flanker was allowed to play for them in last Friday’s 22-7 Premiership Cup loss at Newcastle Falcons.
However, he swiftly returns to Chris Stirling’s side in one of seven changes for today’s trip to Coventry as they look to achieve back-to-back wins for the first time this season following last week’s relieving Cup victory over Nottingham.,
Bainbridge, 22, admitted: “It was a good occasion, playing in front of five-and-a-half thousand people up at Kingston Park and a great experience for me.
“I played there in pre-season but it was great to be on the big stage this time.
“It was tough and a step up; I trained with Bath the week before and in terms of playing 80 minutes Premiership Cup action I really enjoyed it.
“I would love to have another crack at it but my sole focus is Carnegie now and this game at Coventry.”
Stirling’s side have gained some much-needed confidence from last week’s win given they sit bottom of the Championship having lost eight of their opening nine league games.
However, the recent addition of some high-quality signings has also improved the mood with Samoa international Fa’atiga Lemalu, the former Saracens lock who has just helped Auckland become New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Champions, making his debut today.
Bainbridge conceded: “It was great to come back in and see team spirit in the squad so high.
“It’s quite crazy to think what just bringing in some new players can do.
“I wasn’t there in the build-up to Nottingham but those new boys clearly helped and now we’ve prepped really well for Coventry. We’re looking to build ready for that return to the Championship after Christmas.
“We know when it comes to that we now really have to hit the ground running.
“And I do think we will; we’re not going to play our strongest side every week in these six weeks of Championship Cup and the coaches are aware of that.
“I think we’re making really good strides.”
Lock Matt Smith captains Carnegie for the first time today while Andy Forsyth returns at centre in place of Pete Lucock.
Academy player Rian Hamilton makes the step-up to the starting line-up having impressed from the bench in last week’s win against Nottingham.
Jacob Umaga – one of those signings having joined from Wasps on loan – gets a start at fly half in his second game for the club.
He comes in for Jade Te Rure, with Chris Elder reverting back to full-back while Olly Fox starts at scrum-half.
Up front, Andrew Foster and Dylan Donnellan come in to the starting XV for Craig Mitchell and Joe Buckle who are both named on the bench.
The likes of Rich Mayhew, Richard Beck and Trystan Lloyd are sidelined. George Watkins misses with a head injury but is expected to return for next Saturday’s Cup game – the Yorkshire ‘on the road’ derby against Doncaster Knights at Hull Ionians’ Brantingham Park.