Macclesfield v Fylde preview: Trio out for Fylde
Player-coach Paul Arnold and experienced campaigners Oli Brennand and Evan Stewart will be missing from the Fylde RFC starting line-up for tomorrow's first away trip of the season to take on North West rivals Macclesfield.
Arnold has been ruled out of the fixture because of concussion.
He had to leave the field in the opening day defeat at the hands of Birmingham Moseley.
Arnold suffered a head injury when he accidentally came into collision with the knee of team-mate Dave Fairbrother.
Under the concussion ruling, Arnold is sidelined for three weeks, so Nick Gray comes into the side and will have to strike up a new relationship with Jack Turley in the second row.
Brennand is unavailable, therefore new boy James Bailey comes in on the wing.
Stewart is needed for school duties, so he will be unable to play against his old club, for whom he had a significant spell, including a period as club captain.
Ben Vernon takes his place in the back row.
While Fylde were losing 25-20 on the opening day of the season in a match played at the Woodland in a torrential downpour, Macclesfield pushed Esher all the way in London, going down 21-19 at Esher.
That was Macclesfield’s first match back in National League One after they stormed to the National Two North championship last season, prevailing by a massive margin of 14 points.
All the indications are that Macclesfield will be a totally different proposition to the clubs’ last league meeting at Priory Park in the 2014-15 campaign when Fylde won 47-0, Jordan Dorrington claiming a hat-trick of tries.
Macclesfield are coached by Giles Heagerty; he and his coaching team have put their own imprint on the Cheshire club, as Fylde player-coach Arnold fully appreciates.
He said: “Macclesfield used to be known for playing eight-man rugby, but Giles Heagerty has come in and brought in his own different style to the way his team plays.
“They blitzed the division last season and will be looking to carry on that kind of form to National League One this season.
“You have to respect what Giles has done for them and we have locked horns quite a few times in the past at different points.”
Like Macclesfield, Fylde had to be content with picking up one losing bonus point last Saturday, and Arnold is firmly of the belief it could have been better on an afternoon when skipper Chris Briers scored two tries playing in an unaccustomed position as fly-half, a berth that he will occupy tomorrow.
Arnold commended Briers for his display, adding: “I think the last time he played in that position was when he was with Wigan schoolboys and he showed what a good player he is.
“Birmingham Moseley scored two of their tries from driving mauls and did not trouble us that much in defence. I believe that on a dry day the result on Saturday could have been different.”
Despite the opening day defeat, Arnold has high expectations for the season, adding: “The team spirit that we have at the club at the moment is the best I have known in all of the time that I have been at Fylde.”
Fly-half Greg Smith, who has yet to be registered for the first team, is likely to play for Fylde Wanderers, who are at home to Firwood Waterloo tomorrow.
Second rower Gareth Gore is also back at the club, having taken time out of the game for a spell while he started up a new business venture.
Fylde: Dorrington; Bailey, Armstrong, Rawlings, Bingham; Briers, Nicholls; Lewis, Burtonwood, Griffiths, Gray, Turley, Goodman, Vernon, Fairbrother. Replacements: Pope, Maher, Garrod, Lamprey, Wilkinson. Kick-off 3pm.