Argon Technologies sponsored Douglas Rugby Club welcome old foes Ruskin Park to Port e chee this saturday to kick off their debut league season in South Lancs Cheshire Division 1. This is the highest league Douglas have competed in and Waterworth's warriors are ready for the challenge.
Whilst the eyes of Manx sport have been on Mark Cavendish's charge down the Champs Elysee and the transfers in and out in Manx league football, Douglas, under new skipper Glyn Hooson-Owen, have been showing their intent for the future in strengthening their squad with a number of new players. Former Ramsey talisman and recent Manx cup man of the match Lance Wyllie has followed his brother Shaun to Port e Chee. Blake Ronald, Hugo Langermann, Glenn Smith, Quintin Van Dyk and Luke Collins have all signed for Douglas to add plenty of strength in depth and with Callum Randle and Euan Ellis having come through the junior ranks and now being eligible for senior rugby it is certainly exciting times.
This weeks squad has a very similar feel to it, the front five of Todd, Lea, Pote, Hooson-Owen and Thompson all start and will hope they can rediscover their form from last season and provide a solid platform for the backline. In the back row there is Craig McGee, Niall Killey and Lance Wyllie making his debut. Bryn Snellgrove will bark the orders from scrum half and Mike Hebden will marshall from stand off. Outside Hebden are Ryan Maddox who has now returned to full time rugby following a year away and Christian Brew moves into outside centre. The wingers are likely to be debutant speedsters Blake Ronald and Callum Randle with either former skipper Scott Goodall or Simon Heggs filling in at full back. There is plenty of competition for bench spots this week with Gleen Smith, Liam King, Dom Winrow and Carl Markl-Ferns all pushing those ahead of them in the starting fifteen.
Douglas know from past experience that Ruskin are a physical side but also have pace outside and given time on the ball will cause havoc in defence. Douglas will be hoping that their impressive defensive record from last season carries on into this season if they are to stop their opposition in their tracks.
Douglas will have to play with both structure and precision, and having had a good outing against Rhyl a few weeks ago they shouldnt be too rusty come Saturday. Douglas will be hoping the forwards as they did so often last season will be destructive in the loose phases and will provide plenty of clean go forward ball to allow the back line to fire and hopefully start the season with a bang.
Ruskin will offer a good marker to how far Douglas really have come as they finished their league campaign comfortably in mid table and this match promises to be a good test for Douglas in what should be a fast paced and physical match.
Tony Wilson-Spratt is hosting a pre match lunch on saturday and kick off is at 2:45, all are encouraged to attend and offer support for Douglas in what promises to be a great day in their history.