St Hilaire set back

Date published: Wednesday, March 9, 2011

OUR depleted threequarters lost another key man today when Marcus St Hilaire was ruled out of Sunday’s first league game against Gateshead Thunder at Whitebank.

The club’s 34-year-old joint vice-captain is struggling with a recurrence of hamstring trouble and has been told he has no chance of playing at weekend.

It means we will begin our fifth attempt to climb out of the professional game’s third tier without three of our most experienced outside backs — suspended right-wing Lucas Onyango, right centre St Hilaire and left-wing John Gillam, who has a fractured eye socket.

Onyango’s two-game ban will be cleared by the Gateshead match, but it isn’t known yet how long Gillam and St Hilaire are likely to be sidelined.

We will know more about Gillam’s prospects on Monday after he has had another check-up with a facial specialist.

Hooker Scott Mansfield, back with us after a month on loan to Rochdale Hornets, will be in John Hough’s reserve-team squad at York tomorrow (thurs) night.

“St Hilaire’s setback means we are now running with a squad of 21, ten of whom are players who are new to the squad this season,” said coach Tony Benson.

Marcus St Hilaire

The 21 include forwards Tom Wood-Hulme (shoulder) and Ben Wood (ankle), who were hurt against Hunslet Warriors last Sunday, but who are expected to be fit by Sunday.

Benson’s 17 will come from:

Backs: Ben Heaton, Alistair Williams, Michael Diveney, Matthew Fogarty, Jack Bradbury, Neil Roden, Mark Brocklehurst, Matty Ashe.

Forwards: Jason Boults, Dave Ellison, Martin Roden, Andy Isherwood, Danny Whitmore, Chris Clarke, Luke Sutton, Valu Bentley, Liam Gilchrist, Ben Wood, John Clough, Tom Wood-Hulme, Paul Noone.

Drier weather over the last few days gave Benson the luxury last night of conducting a full training session on the Whitebank pitch.

“Most of our sessions so far this year have either been on one third of a five-a-side soccer pitch or in a sports hall,” revealed the Roughyeds boss.

“Wet weather and a scarcity of pitches in the borough forced us indoors and we haven’t had the opportunity to do team drills and run through sets.

“It was exciting to me to be able to give the squad a proper run-out at Whitebank and we should see a marked difference in how we perform in a game.

“In terms of being ready for the league campaign I would rather be further forward than we are, but I am sure we will prove ourselves to be a very good team as the season rolls on.

“We have a lot of new players and a lot of young fellows who are experiencing their first taste of open-age rugby, but this squad has as much potential as last year’s squad, if not more so.”