Leeming set for long-awaited debut

A YEAR on from being diagnosed with cancer, Jersey Reds fly half Sam Leeming will step out at St Peter to make his debut for the club against Leicester Tigers.

Sam Leeming, in action for Bedford Blues above, will make his long awaited debut for Jersey Reds tonight
Sam Leeming, in action for Bedford Blues above, will make his long awaited debut for Jersey Reds tonight

Leeming went through chemotherapy treatment before being given the all-clear earlier this year.

He starts in the number 10 jersey as the Reds continue their pre-season preparations with a stiff challenge against the Premiership side.

‘I think it’s a year and maybe one or two days since he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s recovered, his first game back is against Leicester Tigers. What a game for that young man to be in,’ said Reds head coach Harvey Biljon.

‘I’ve spoken to him all week, he’s pretty excited. He doesn’t need to build up too much hype and too much excitement, he needs to go out and enjoy it.’

Leeming joined Jersey from Bedford Blues last summer.

The Reds come into the game after a thrilling draw in France against Vannes and Biljon sees this as the next step up in their preparation for the Championship season.

He said that Tigers were clearly a team on the rise.

‘We know we will be tested from a match-intensity perspective, a physicality perspective and a speed perspective, everything that we need in pre-season, and I know the players are looking forward to the challenge.’

The squad has suffered a ‘few bumps and bruises’ in both training and from the Vannes game.

They are without fly half Bader Pretorius, back rower Tim Grey, hooker TJ Harris, prop Adam Nicol and versatile back Ryan Hutler.

That means a reshuffle with a few players playing out of position tonight.

Islander Harry Doolan is in the squad again after making his senior debut last week, while a place on the bench for Guy Thompson could mean he faces his former club having returned to Jersey from Tigers in the summer.

Biljon said a key priority was making sure they gave every player the opportunity to put their hand up to be selected for the opening league game.

He was happy with what he has seen so far.

‘It is a really competitive squad, the way they are competing with each other, that will bring the best out of the group,’ he said.

Kick-off at Stade Santander is at 5pm.

‘It’s going to be a great occasion to have Leicester Tigers at St Peter playing against Jersey Reds, it’s going to be a real opportunity and I trust it will be played in the right spirit.’

Tigers have been in Jersey on a training camp this week to prepare.

They announced yesterday that England prop Ellis Genge would be their new captain for this season, taking over from Tom Youngs.

Squad:

Owen Huw, Jack Macfarlane, Ciaran Parker, Zak Farrance, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Wesley White, Max Argyle, James Mitchell, Sam Leeming, Brendan Owen, Dan Barnes, Jack Roberts, Ryan Olowofela, Scott Van Breda. Replacements: Harry Doolan, Eoghan Clarke, James Flynn, Roy Godfrey, Jack Higgins, Max Ayling, Alex Humfrey, Lewis Wynne, Guy Thompson, Harry Simmons, James Elliot, Brendan Cope, Jordan Holgate, Will Lane.

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