Friendlies with Tigers and Sharks to help Reds 'hit the ground running'

HARVEY BILJON admits Jersey Reds will not be the most-prepared side entering the Championship in 2021/22 – but high-profile friendlies against the likes of Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks will allow them to ‘hit the ground running’.

Jersey director of rugby Harvey Biljon Picture: GARRY BOWDEN/SPORT IN PICTURES
Jersey director of rugby Harvey Biljon Picture: GARRY BOWDEN/SPORT IN PICTURES

The Island club are due to travel to France for the first of three pre-season friendlies this week, before welcoming English Premiership sides on consecutive Fridays at St Peter.

An opening test against RC Vannes will be followed by a visit by the Tigers on Friday 27 August, with the Sharks following suit on 4 September.

Vannes were beaten 34-33 by Biarritz in the Pro D2 play-off semi-finals last season and are expected to serve up a physical encounter in Brittany.

‘We will be under pressure going into the game against Vannes but I think the squad is in a good place,’ said Biljon.

‘We have some long-term injuries but it’s slowly coming back together for Adam Nicol, TJ Harris and Ryan Hutler. We also have some unusual bumps from pre-season so we’re under pressure in a couple of positions, but that’s the nature of the beast.

‘Vannes lost by one point in the last minute of their semi-final and were going for the Top 14, so they’ll be a massive test, and Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks ... let’s be honest, they’ll be top four in the Premiership this season.

‘I don’t think we’ll be the most well-prepared in the league because we’ve got a small squad, but we’ve put them in the best place we can.

‘Our players will be playing at a speed and level of physicality that will be fantastic preparation for the season, but again I touch wood quickly right now because we need to come through injury free to be able to hit the ground running.

‘From a matches perspective, they will all be great preparation for the season. We have spoken to the players about selection and their contribution and performances and the support team have looked at how we can make sure we take key learnings away from them.’

Meanwhile, Reds confirmed this week that their opening home Greene King IPA Championship match of the season against Bedford Blues will take place on Saturday 25 September, kick-off 2.30pm.

That follows a trip to London Scottish in the opening round of league games a week earlier.

Scottish return to the league after opting out of the truncated 2020-21 season and rejecting the offer of a 10-year loan from the UK government.

There was no relegation in the Championship last season, so Scottish have been allowed to take up where they left off from the season before.

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