Fylde high-jumper Rawlings grounded

PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'Fylde v Tynedale'Woodlands ground, Ansdell'Gareth Rawlings jumps
PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'Fylde v Tynedale'Woodlands ground, Ansdell'Gareth Rawlings jumps
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LOCK Gareth Rawlings, Fylde RU’s principal lineout jumper, is out of tomorrow’s Woodlands clash with Blaydon.

Rawlings is being rested for the National League One match against a side struggling against relegation, but one that has beaten Fylde already this season.

Fylde coach Mark Nelson said: “Rawlings has been suffering from back spasms for the past couple of matches and it is starting to become chronic.”

In Rawlings’ absence, Grant Ferguson will lock the scrum alongside Paul Arnold. Ferguson will be making his 150th club appearance and Arnold his 50th for Fylde.

Fellow forward Evan Stewart needs a fitness test and Steve McGinnis is standing by to take his place in the back row for second-placed Fylde, who are just one point adrift of leaders Jersey.

Martin Wallwork comes back at scrum-half in place of Callum McShane.

Nelson said: “McShane has done exceptionally well, but we have three good scrum-halves in him, Wallwork and Steve Depledge.

“It is a question of keeping them fresh and picking a player to do a job in a particular match.”

Blaydon prevailed 33-17 when the clubs met in the North-East and Nelson said: “This is the first of two successive matches we play against sides who have beaten us already this season (Barking follow on Saturday week).

“We didn’t even manage a bonus point when we lost at Blaydon.

“They have played two matches fewer than we have, so they should be fresh and we can’t underestimate the challenge Blaydon will give us.”

Jersey are at home to Cinderford tomorrow.

Fylde: C Briers; Royle, S Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Kenyon, Wallwork; Griffiths, Roddam, Lavelle, Arnold, Ferguson, Stephenson, Stewart or McGinnis, S Beaumont. Replacements from: Altham, Loney, Livesey, McGinnis, Depledge, Collins, McShane, Viney.

n Fylde wing Nick Royle misses out on a place in the England Sevens squad for the next two legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

Royle is one of two players stood down from England’s last outing in South Africa, along with hooker Simon Hunt.

Uncapped Oxford student Tom Mitchell wins his first call-up and fit-again John Brake returns for the tournaments in Wellington, New Zealand (February 3-4) and Las Vegas, US (February 10-12).

Fylde have a blank date anyway on the February 4 but Royle will now be available for the home clash with Cambridge seven days later.

Nelson said of the decision to omit Royle: “The problem with Nick is that he missed some training sessions with England because of a hand injury, and to play at that level a player needs to be at the peak of fitness.

“I have spoken to (England Sevens coach) Dean Rya and he has said that Nick needs to get back to full physical fitness, with gym work as well as match time with us. There are six more sevens tournaments to go, so there is every opportunity for him to get back with England.”

Midfield back Mitchell, a 22-year-old from Sussex, is a former England Students captain, while half-back Brake has recovered from the broken finger that ruled him out of the Dubai and Port Elizabeth legs last month.

England are just four points off the top of the table – behind Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa – after the opening three rounds, which included their tournament win in Dubai.

The squad, which departs for New Zealand on Tuesday, includes nine of England’s 12 full-time contracted sevens players.