North Midlands have named 10 newcomers in their squad for their opening County Championship match of the season against Hampshire at Dudley Kingswinford on Saturday May 6 (3pm).
Stourbridge hooker Jack Lea, Luctonians flanker Henry Monkley, Stourbridge scrum-half Ben Trinham (Stourbridge), centres Ben Phillips (Birmingham & Solihull) and Joe Heatley (Stourbridge) and wing Aquile Smith (Hull Ionians) have all been included in the starting XV.
Tom Orchard (Birmingham University), Aiden Cheshire (Luctonians), Callum Jones (Worcester Wanderers) and Brandon Lee (Edwardians) will make their county debuts if they come off the bench.
Phillips has progressed to the North Midlands senior set-up from this season’s county Under-20s side. He was part of the North Midlands side that reached the quarter-finals of the National Under-20 Championship and played for Midlands Under-20s last weekend.
North Midlands have been forced to reshuffle their coaching team in the build-up to the County Championship with Alex Davidson stepping down for personal reasons following the death of his father and being made redundant from his job as Luctonians’ director of rugby.
Rod Petty has stepped up to head coach with Mark Evans continuing as assistant coach. Petty will supervise affairs on the pitch too having been named as Trinham’s half back partner.
North Midlands face a short trip to Rugby Lions to play Warwickshire in their second pool match on May 13 then return to Dudley Kingswinford to host Somerset on May 20.
The winner of Pool Two will meet the winner of Pool One in the final of the County Championship’s second tier competition at Twickenham on May 27.
15 Tom Jones (Luctonians); 14 Aquile Smith (Hull Ionians), 13 Joe Heatley (Stourbridge), 12 Ben Phillips (Birmingham & Solihull), Josh Trinham (Stourbridge); 10 Rod Petty (Stourbridge), 9 Ben Trinham (Stourbridge);m1 Stefan Thorp (Stourbridge), 2 Jack Lea (Stourbridge), 3 Mark George (Stourbridge), 4 Sam Knott (Bromsgrove), 5 Chris Goddard (Birmingham & Solihull), 6 Henry Monkley (Luctonians), 7 Sam Montieri (Bromsgrove), 8 Steve Leach (Old Halesonians).
Replacements: Bobby Collins (Bromsgrove), Gino Belmonte (Bromsgrove), Tom Orchard (Birmingham University), Aiden Cheshire (Luctonians), Stefan Shillingford (Dudley Kingswinford), Callum Jones (Worcester Wanderers), Brandon Lea (Edwardians).