COACH Steve Smith is confident that the future of Burton Rugby Club is in safe hands with the young players coming through, but admits that the Crofters have been forced to rely on their juniors.
Burton have given first-team chances to a number of their younger players this season and they have generally stepped up to the challenge.
However, ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Whitchurch, kick-off 3pm, Smith revealed that the club’s budget meant that they had little choice but to promote from within.
He said: “We have several young lads like Jack Champney, Ali Wheedon and Kieran Hawketts who have already had senior experience.
“Plus the likes of Will Jay, Ben Grimsdell, Dale Spratt, Ashley Allum, Owen Farrington and plenty more also pushing for inclusion in our senior sides, which is excellent for the club.
“The reality is that if you cannot pay players from outside to play for you like some teams in our league, you have to develop them from within and the future certainly looks bright in this area for Burton RFC.”
Last time out, Burton beat Berkswell and Balsall 20-17, although the win came at a cost, with Ken Archer being taken away in an ambulance with a bad ankle injury.
And Smith took the time to thank their hosts for their assistance.
He said: “I want to start by saying a massive thank you to the captain, the players, physio and officials from Berkswell and Ballsall for the support that was shown with Ken Archer’s freak injury last week.
“It was a credit to our opposition that a tough and sometimes feisty affair was forgotten immediately a player was badly injured.
“Everyone worked together and a massive thanks also goes to our physio, Charlie Malcolm, who was outstanding until the ambulance arrived at the scene.”
Archer will not play again this season, meaning some alterations for the Crofetrs this weekend.
Smiths said: “Ken has had an operation on his ankle and is back on the mend and will be back in the Burton shirt hopefully at some stage next season.”
Burton will shuffle their pack and bring either Jono Edwards or Ed Henry into the second row and rotate the back row with Joe Briggs, Kelvin Browne and Jason Knight starting, while last week’s debutant James Burrough will be restricted to a role from the bench.
The selectors will make a final decision on two positions in the backs today, with Danny Campbell or the returning Darryl Banton at scrum-half, and Danny Smith likely to replace Tom Cooper on the wing.
Smith said: “Tom has done a good job for us on the wing but we see him playing at centre in the future, so have decided to play him in the A team to gain more experience in this area.”
Ties between Burton and Whitchurch have tended to be open, running games that produce plenty of points.
Earlier in the season, the Crofters nearly frittered away a solid lead in the reverse tie, when the opposition scored three late tries to take the final score to 34-26 in Burton’s favour.
Whitchurch are currently ninth in the league, but have only won one game in 2013, against Ludlow in early January.
Members are reminded of their Spring Raffle tickets, which need to be sold by March 10, as after the recent poor weather, the club’s need for extra financial input is greater than ever.
Other games involving teams at the club this weekend see the A team away at Bournville, while the Vets host Barton 2nds. All games kick-off at the later time of 3pm.