Albion make three changes for derby clash with Pirates
PLYMOUTH Albion make three changes to their starting line-up for Sunday's West Country derby against the Cornish Pirates at Mennaye Field (3pm).
Louis Messer will make his league debut for the club at full-back with teenager Jack Arnott and Cornish prop Jack Andrew coming into the team.
They replace Henry Slade, Tom Bowen and David Morton.
Bowen, who scored Albion's second try in their 27-22 win over Doncaster, and prop Morton drop to the bench, while dual-registered back Slade is not included in the 22-man squad at all, as his parent club Exeter have not released him this week.
Fortunately, Paul Roberts has recovered from an ankle injury which he was struggling with earlier in the week.
Albion coach Nat Saumi said: "Exeter have not released Henry for this week.
"It is quite disappointing as he is our back-up 10, but we can't do anything about it.
"Paul Bailey will be covering 10."
Slade's absence allows Messer to come in at full-back for his debut.
He missed the Doncaster match due to injury.
"It is good to have him back," said Saumi.
Although Bowen scored a good try, Saumi believes he still has aspects of his game to work on and feels Arnott's bit more experience of Championship rugby could be crucial in Sunday's derby.
The experienced Keni Fisilau is added to the bench, along with summer signings Ien Ascroft-Leigh and former Pirates Tom Cowan-Dickie.
The return to the starting line-up of prop Andrew means he could be facing his older brother Paul, who plays in the front-row for the Pirates.
"It would be nice to play against him again," said Andrew.
"It was interesting last year.
"I played against him twice last year and lost both, so hopefully we can change that this time."
Andrew admitted his team-mates found him playing against his brother more interesting than him.
"A lot of the boys gave me some banter about it," he said. "But at the end of the day he is just another player on the pitch when you walk over that white line."
Andrew said his brother was quite good last season and did not give him too much stick about beating him twice.
However, Andrew hopes it will be him celebrating on Sunday.
"It is going to be really hard to go down there because they are a great team," said Andrew.
"But we have been working really hard in pre-season and our performances are getting better every week.
"After beating Doncaster we just want to keep it going.
"Hopefully, we can go down there and get that away win at the start of the year."
He added: "Last year we lost some games by three or four points due to silly errors.
"Hopefully, this year we can overturn those results and get some what people would call shock results, but we would not find them a shock because we feel that on any day we can beat any team in this league.
"Hopefully, we can go out there and shock the fans and get them back to Brickfields for our home games."
Andrew admits everyone looks forward to derby matches.
"You always look for the games against Pirates and Bristol," he said.
"Me being from Cornwall originally I always look for the Pirates game.
"It is one to be excited about."
There are a lot of connections between both Albion and the Pirates.
In the Pirates squad, Alan Paver, Kyle Marriott, Tom Kessell, Kieran Hallett and Jack Nowell have all played for Albion, while current Plymouth players Rhodri McAtee, Lloyd Fairbrother and Tom Cowan-Dickie are former Pirates players, as are Albion coaches Saumi and James Owen.
"There are obviously a lot of boys in both teams that want to prove stuff against friends and former clubs.
"We have Cornish guys in our team who probably want to go down and play against Cornwall's top team and play well.
"That is always going to be make it a bit more feisty and interesting."
Andrew is just pleased to be in Albion's squad to have a chance to face the Pirates.
"There is massive competition for all the front-row shirts, so it is nice to be involved in Nat's 22.
"If you get a shirt you just have to try and keep it."
Albion: Louis Messer, Rhodri McAtee, Paul Bailey, Bevon Armitge, Jack Arnott, Paul Roberts, Paul Rowley, Jack Andrew, Jon Vickers, Lloyd Fairbrother, Brett Beukeboom, Sean-Michael Stephen (capt), Herbie Stupple, Sam Hocking, Aaron Carpenter. Reps: Ruairi Cushion, Tom Bowen, Keni Fisilau, David Morton, Tom Cowan-Dickie, Rupeni Nasiga, Ien Ascroft-Leigh.