Siam Cup: A game like no other

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Instead he will be thinking about the year before when, in front of a 3,500-strong home crowd, he suffered the indignity of being part of a side which lost 26-22 to the old enemy, Guernsey.

As he is quick to point out, he wasn’t captain that day, although the memory of such an unexpected defeat still rankles.

‘I won’t say who the captain was, but I certainly don’t want to follow in his footsteps,’ O’Brien said.

‘I’d also like to say that we’ll give them a good hiding, but as ever with Siam Cups, it will be much closer than that.

Neither side will ever lie down and admit to a good beating.’ The team’s coach, Dai Burton, echoed O’Brien’s words.

‘If you’re asking me to forecast the result, I’d say it will be pretty close,’ he said.

‘A lot will depend on the first half hour when both packs will be trying to dominate.

Both sides defend well but, on a hard pitch, when you never know which way the ball will bounce, I anticipate there being a lot of points scored by both sides.

‘I’m expecting it to be an exciting game of rugby, one in which we won’t be relying on scores from pushover tries and catch and drives, which is one of the ways we scored our points last year.

‘At the moment we’re a bit like the French side; I never know what to expect until the players actually run out on to the pitch, so if you’re asking me if we’ll play attractive, 15-man rugby, well, I just don’t know.

‘They’ve gained two lads from Manawatu, the same region in New Zealand where Nathan (Kemp) is from, plus a handful of Australians.

I’m hoping that they won’t realise the passion of this one off game, unlike all of our players, including Nathan and Latu, who experienced it for the first time, first-hand, a year ago.’ In that 2006 game two players were red-carded; four were sin-binned; a Guernsey water boy ran on to the pitch and thumped one of the Jersey pack while the referee, Tim Miller, was so upset by the passion of the match that he refused to talk to the press once the match was over.

‘We needed last week’s game (against Kenilworth) as preparation for this,’ said Burton, ‘although Darren Toudic was so badly concussed he’s been off work all week and the player responsible may well be cited.

‘Selection this year has been tough, with at least two calls in the starting 15 which could have gone either way.

As it is, we’ve a lot of fire power on the bench including two strong props who are as good in their positions as anyone in the team we’ve selected to start this match.’ It will certainly be a new-look Siam clash,with Guernsey fielding seven new to the fixture, and Jersey six plus a further two on the bench.

But this does not necessarily mean inexperiece of big occasions – two of Jersey’s new caps are flankers Kern Yates, an England age group player, and Graham Bell, who was Scottish Premiership player! Guernsey’s new boys, too, have big game experience.

Jersey’s other new caps in the Collins Stewart squad include talented stand-off/centre Jamie Allan, younger brother of Plymouth Albion centre Ross; winger Ryan Morgan, a senior Hampshire cap who has been a regular try-scorer this term and who starred at scrum-half with Allan in their Jersey Youth team just two seasons ago.

Their captain in that youth side was powerful prop Ross Kenwright, son of the late Ernie ‘Cubie’ Kenwright, who is on the bench along with the current Youth captain David Felton, who celebrates his 18th birthday tomorrow.

Also starting a Siam for the first time tomorrow, but with a deal of experience more, are centre Jason Hosty, a signing from Mitie Beeches, and winger Mark Le Mottée, whose form has been excellent.

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