James relishing Crusaders comeback
Wales international Aled James is happy to answer the call as Crusaders RL look to put their off-field drama behind them against Hull KR at the Racecourse Ground tomorrow.
The 29-year-old is one of three South Wales Scorpions players drafted into Iestyn Harris’ squad following the club’s decision to suspend seven regulars for a breach of discipline.
James, who has been captain of the Scorpions since their inception, is no stranger to the Crusaders, having made six Engage Super League appearances during their time in Bridgend in 2009.
“It’s like a fourth Crusaders debut for me,” said James, who won his 11th cap when Wales beat France 12-11 in the European Cup in October to qualify for this season’s Four Nations Series.
“I started in the Crusaders in the first season in 2006. I went back into rugby union for a bit with Glamorgan Wanderers and then I came back in 2008 and 2009 and played some Super League.
“Then earlier this year I played in pre-season friendlies for Crusaders. No matter how many times I feel that it was my last game for Crusaders, I keep coming back.”
Joe Burke and Dalton Grant are the other Scorpions players enlisted by Harris to plug the gaps caused by the loss of Jason Chan, Richard Moore, Jarrod Sammut and Jordan Tansey, who have all been dropped after playing in last Sunday’s defeat at Huddersfield Giants.
Australian second rower Hep Cahill serves a one-match ban for a late tackle but captain Clinton Schifcofske returns from a three-match absence with a rib injury as bottom-of-the-table Crusaders look to end a six-match losing run.
Although there may some unfamiliar names in the Crusaders line-up, Hull KR coach Justin Morgan has identified two dangermen he is acutely aware of.
“They’ve got a couple of front rowers who enjoy offloading the football in Ryan O’Hara and Mark Bryant,” he said.
“When we played them at Craven Park the only time they caused us any problems was when they offloaded the ball.
“We need to make sure our defensive line is nice and square and straight to not allow any line breaks off the back of offloads.”
Rovers followed up win at Harlequins RL a fortnight ago with a record-breaking 76-14 rout of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats last Sunday to take some of the pressure off Morgan and keep alive their play-off hopes.
“We’ve recorded back-to-back wins in the Super League for the first time this season and, whilst it’s taken a fair chunk of the year to do that, we’ve got to make sure we capitalise on it,” added Morgan.
“This weekend is another must-win if we want to fulfil our goals of making the top eight.”
Wigan Warriors look to make it five wins in a row when they take on Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop tomorrow.
They have prop Andy Coley back from suspension and recall goalkicking winger Pat Richards in place of the injured Darrell Goulding after resting him for the midweek win over Castleford Tigers.
However, the champions are without centre George Carmont, who has a hamstring problem, and coach Michael Maguire will give a late check to forward Gareth Hock after he went off with a groin strain against the Tigers.
Harlequins, who have just one win in their last 15 Super League matches, are without half-back Kyle Briggs, who has returned to parent club Bradford Bulls after breaking his wrist in last week’s defeat at Salford City Reds.
Teenager Dan Sarginson is set to make his home debut after a two-try debut against the Reds and, although winger Chris Melling is still sidelined with a rib injury, forward Oliver Wilkes and full-back Luke Dorn are fit to return.