FYLDE RU wing/full-back Nick Royle swaps an England shirt for a club strip tomorrow in an intriguing and challenging top-of-the-table clash at home to Coventry in National League One (3pm).
Royle crossed for four tries as England Sevens prepared for the HSBC Sevens World Series by winning four of their five games in a warm-up tournament in Elche, Spain.
England beat Scotland 24-14, France 29-14, Wales 26-19 and Spain 46-5.
The only reverse came in the day’s penultimate game, in which they went down 24-21 to Portugal.
England head to the Gold Coast of Australia next for the start of the HSBC Series on November 25-26.
Royle scored against Scotland, Wales (2) and Spain, and Fylde coach Mark Nelson is happy he acquitted himself well but was more concerned he stayed injury-free in Spain. Royle will take his place in the Fylde line-up at full-back as the second-placed side take on in-form Coventry, who are just two points adrift in fourth.
Prop Alastair Livesey is away on international duty with Malta and Fylde will also be without centre Stephen Briers, who requires a scan on an ankle injury sustained in training.
Nelson said: “It wasn’t even a contact injury – it was a case of Briers falling over Mark Stephenson in training, so it is very frustrating.”
Prop Simon Griffiths away at a wedding, so Tom McGuinness is drafted on to the bench. There is a run-out on the wing for Sam Russell, who has been playing for the second team after a spel in Australia.
It is an important weekend at the top end of the table, with leaders Ealing Trailfinders meeting third-placed Cambridge. But Nelson said it would not be a defining day for the promotion issues.
He insisted: “We will know more about that after 20 games, not the ten we have played at the moment.
“There is still the winter to come – some teams will get injuries and others will be lucky to avoid them.
“The league table as it stands at the moment is pretty random. Ealing might have considered themselves (title) favourites. but then they lost to one of the bottom clubs, Barking.”
The Fylde coach is under no illusion about how hard it is going to be against Coventry. He said: “Every game we play this season is a challenge, but I believe Coventry will be by far the hardest we have had so far.
“They have some young backs and some old heads up front, and players with a lot of Championship experience. It was only due to a set of freak results that they were relegated.”
Centre Ed Binham will be given some game time by playing for the second XV.
Nelson had been keen to include Josh Beaumont in the pack but his Durham University commitments do not allow for this.
The coach said: “Josh was at our match at Macclesfield last Saturday as a spectator. We would have liked him to have played but universities are universities and we have to accept that.”hat.”
Fylde: Royle; Russell, C Briers, Waywell, Brennand; Kenyon, Wallwork; Altham, Roddam, Loney, Arnold, Rawlings, Ferguson, Stewart, S Beaumont; replacements: Lavelle, McGuinness, Stephenson, Depledge, Collins.