The late(ish) withdrawals of Rob Knox, Andy Brown and Chad Thorne mean a difficult trip to Hartpury just got a whole lot harder.
Fair play to Coventry though, with updates coming via the official channels this week, rather than being picked up via supporters and then put on Facebook and the messageboard. It’s a more efficient way of giving out important information and, dare I say it, it looks a whole lot more professional.
It was pretty obvious that there was a problem in the backs when, on Thursday evening, Sam Smith tweeted his delight being back in a Cov shirt this weekend – presumably a training ground injury to Rob? The new pairing in the centres of Smith and Tincknell will obviously enjoy the challenge, especially with Luke Eves up against them. However, reputations are made on such contests and it is to be hoped that both enjoy the game and learn from the experience – and a couple of tries each would be good, too!
The loss of Thorne and Brown is arguably an even bigger blow. They have been the immense in the last few weeks and have been a huge part of the reason why the scrum has been so dominant these past few weeks. To have needed to replace just one would have been a blow, but both is a huge loss.
However, the same applies to Kivalu and Foreman as it does to Sam Smith. With contracts up for grabs next season, what better place is there to stake a claim? And what a claim it would be, too. If they can match Hartpury College up front, then half the battle is won.
With two relatively inexperienced props playing, Matt Price’s vast experience will be needed and in retrospect, I think this is one area where he will have the upper hand over Devlin. Matt is going to have to lead from the front, something he is not averse to doing. He’s just the man for the job…
Joe Foreman has been playing regularly for Broadstreet this season, so he’ll be raring for the opportunity to move up a level. Whilst there haven’t been too many instances of players doing this so far this season (other than the likes of Cliffie and Jacques who were only ever with ‘Street to get some game time), it ‘s great to see the partnership working as it was probably intended.
Kivalu Tipilomu or Tipilomu Kivalu. I might owe him a huge apology as I’ve always assume (Tipi)Lomu was his first name but he’s down on the official club team announcement as Kivalu Tipilomu. If I’ve got it wrong, mea culpa…I think I’ve used the name squad list on the messageboard in the past.
Kivalu is a strong scrummager but I’m not yet convinced he is as mobile as a Chad Thorne or Andy Brown. His fitness levels don’t yet appear to be in line with those of the other props in the squad. He will need to get more involved in the loose as he tends to hang off it a little, looking for the quick, short pass to make a few yards on the crash. A real chance to prove himself…
I do worry about the bench, as there appear to be two hookers, Hope and Farnworth, and no prop. I remember reading somewhere that Jake is a converted back rower and I assume Devlin is an out and out hooker, although he did cover in the back row for us as a replacement earlier in the season. Again, I might be wrong, but I don’t think Loti has yet played a full 80 minutes so it is likely that under normal circumstances he would be substituted around the hour mark, but I’m not sure how that would happen with Hope and Farnworth both hookers…????
An injury to one or other props and we could be in real trouble…and if what one poster has said on the board is correct, namely that we have loaned out Adam Parkins, then the whole thing has just move from the strange to the inexplicable.
…I’m not sure what the rules are regarding front row replacements. Can both be hookers…? It would be inexcusable if one needed to be a prop and we ended up getting docked points. I might be well off the mark here, again, but this is where the club ought to make it clear why they have opted for two hookers as replacements. although I accept it has all happened just 48 hours before the game.
Still, such occasions serve to test the credibility of both players and coaches and so it will be interesting to see if Coventry how overcome the potential problems if they do indeed occur and perhaps even use them to their advantage. If ever the team this season needed to play as just that, a team then this is it and, with the odds of a Coventry victory widening as a result of the withdrawals, maybe it will galvanise the players even more.
Daniel Carpo’s experience must surely come into play at some stage in the game, as will Wayne Evans’. With a winger there to cover the other positions in the backs, we could also come unstuck if there is an early injury, although James Tincknell can play on the wing. I’m not sure who would cover Cliffie, but let’s just hope we don’t need to find out.
I can’t help but feel this is going to be the toughest 80 minutes of the season so far.
But cometh the hour…
…cometh the blue and whites.
Or pink even, if the away strip has finally arrived…