BURTON RFC take on local rivals Derby tomorrow in the Midlands One promotion play-off at Peel Croft, kick-off 3pm, with the victors earning a place in the national league next season.
The sides will meet after finishing runners-up in their respective divisions.
Several Burton players have returned from injury, but the form of those who have stepped in during their absence leaves director of rugby Steve Smith with some “massive selection choices”.
But he said: “It’s just another game, and that’s how the lads are treating it, it’s not the end of the world.
“We’ve got ourselves into a great position and I’m really pleased with how the lads have performed and stuck at it, especially when we’ve had setbacks.
“We’ve done well this season and this game is sort of a bonus – and being at home is another bonus.
“We have prepared well, and we will get down there a bit early to give the guys chance to get rid of any nerves.”
Matt Tivey is one of those back from injury, but Smith said the form of Simon Bradley in his stead could see the latter retain his place, as could Dewi Williams, despite the potential availability of top points-scorer Dave Archer.
“We’ve got some good players who might not get in the final squad of 19,” said Smith.
“It will be hard for the lads coming in like Matt and Dave to play 90 minutes.
“But we want to win the game, so we’ll pick what we feel is the best team.
“Selecting a team with my heart is irrelevant.”
Smith has scouted Derby already this season and knows their strengths, but is also pleased that – like Burton – they are a club who promote their own players ahead of expensive imports.
“A lot of our squad are from Burton and a lot of theirs are from Derby,” he said.
“Whatever the result, it’s nice to see two clubs who have stuck by their morals, not buying in lots of players from outside.
“And that’s a testament to Roxy (head coach Roxy Fearon) and (coach) Mark Bradley.
“They’ve got a couple of very good ball carriers, a very good number eight and Luke Frixou, who has been picked for the Midlands recently.
“Andy Brown is one of their better players and someone I’ve known since he was 12, and (George) Castledine is a very good kicker.
“But if I’m honest, our main focus is on our team, I’m not overly worried about them.
“I’m expecting them to be quite loose in attack, while we play with more structure, but we have some major, major ball carriers like Tivey, (Tom) Harris and (Liam) Hucknall.
“Tom actually used to play for Derby, but then he saw the light – and saw the white!”
Read more from Steve Smith about Burton’s plans for promotion in tomorrow’s Burton Mail.