Biljon: ‘Show me what you can do’
HARVEY BILJON has challenged those selected to start for Jersey tonight to ‘stake a claim’ to their shirt.
Following an exceptional 33-29 win at Bedford Blues last Friday, the head coach has made six changes – five in the pack – to his starting line-up for the visit of Ealing Trailfinders and is demanding those players coming in maintain the high standards set at Goldington Road.
‘The pressure comes on for those guys getting their shot,’ he said. ‘They want to keep the shirt. Every time a player goes out they want to give themselves the opportunity to put their hands up for the shirt. Guys want to put themselves in good form to be selected for the big games we have coming up.’
With a daunting trip to leaders Bristol looming at the start of next month, the Reds face probably their two toughest matches of the season over the next fortnight. While Bristol are unbeaten, other than the West Country club only Nottingham have managed to beat the Trailfinders this season, winning by a single point, 28-27, in mid-November.
Although Biljon refused to be drawn on whether or not Jersey have what it takes to topple either of the division’s top two, he claims his side are playing with great self-belief at the moment.
‘That’s been building over time, not just from the Bedford game,’ said the South African. ‘We’ve spoken about our recent record – 15 games, won 11, drawn one, lost three – the squad knows they can go out and perform.
‘However, Ealing is a completely different challenge. They only just went down to Bristol by one point last weekend. They are formidable. If you watched the game you could see they have real Premiership ambition. For us it’s just about staying focused.’
Front row trio Roy Godfrey, Jack Macfarlane and Leeroy Atalifo step into the starting XV, while Dave McKern comes in at lock for James Voss and former Ealing player Seb Nagle-Taylor takes Conor Joyce’s place at openside.
There is just one change to the back-line, with George Eastwell replacing Apakuki Ma’afu at inside centre.
‘We’ve rotated through a few positions, which naturally we’ve got to do,’ Biljon added. ‘We have a plan in place and the players have bought into it.’
Fly-half Aaron Penberthy is looking forward to taking on his former club as Ealing look to get back to winning ways: ‘After playing there for three years I know how tough the conditions can be there on a Friday night, so we’ll have to play our best rugby and show what we can do.’
Lewis Robling, another former Red, starts at centre. Tonight’s match at Stade Santander kicks-off at 7.45 pm.