Biljon:Winners must be rewarded

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THE turmoil surrounding Premiership sides Wasps and Worcester Warriors shows ‘there needs to be a real debate around promotion and relegation’, according to Harvey Biljon.

Jersey Reds’ director of rugby (below), a former Wasps scrum-half, has expressed sympathy with his old club’s plight but believes it shines a light on the relationship between the top flight and the rest of the English club game – and the financial gulf between the two.

Worcester have been suspended from playing and put into administration this week, after failing to meet an RFU funding ultimatum over debts of £25m, while Wasps are equally financially stricken. The former European champions are under pressure to raise urgent funds amid a threat of action from HMRC over unpaid tax bills and debts of £35m.

Biljon said: ‘It’s tough for the game, and for me to see Wasps involved. But all I can do is stay focused on Jersey Reds.

‘We’ve changed direction on the pathway the club is travelling, on where we want to go as a club. If we continue to focus on ourselves, the facilities and the infrastructure, then there is a drive to want to be able to take steps forward.’

Jersey are enjoying their best ever start to a Championship campaign and sit top of the table with three wins from three. However, getting promoted to the Premiership isn’t as easy as that – as champions Ealing Trailfinders found our last season.

Biljon, who moved to St Peter in 2014 and signed a new seven-year contract in May, knows it can be a long slog.

He added: ‘There’s a real debate around promotion and relegation and the criteria to go into the Premiership. In sport, if you win you deserve to get the accolades, rewards and opportunities.

‘If you looked at our approach [since 2014], we wanted to become a team stable in the Championship and looked to give players an opportunity to reach their own goals by stepping up to the next level.

‘We’ve achieved that and now we want to put building blocks in place so if the opportunity ever presents itself we could have a serious look at promotion. But there’s a lot of planning and hard word that needs to go into that.’

In another show of strength at the start of 2022/23, Biljon and head coach Rob Webber are expected to make widespread changes to their matchday 23 for tomorrow evening’s home clash with Cornish Pirates [7.15pm kick-off].

Nine of the 15 who began last Saturday’s 55-21 win at London Scottish are set to be replaced as the management revert to a squad that closely resembles those picked for the opening two games of the season, against Ampthill and Coventry.

Will Brown, who scored a six-minute hat-trick against Scottish, is on the bench as Tomi Lewis returns to the left wing.

Jersey Reds squad to face Cornish Pirates (provisional, 1-15): Sam Grahamslaw, Antonio Harris, Steve Longwell, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, James Dun, Lewis Wynne, Alun Lawrence; James Elliott, Russell Bennett; Tomi Lewis, Jordan Holgate, Alex McHenry, Ben Woollett, Brendan Owen. Replacements: Eoghan Clarke, Greg McGrath, Monty Weatherby, Hamish Bain, Max Argyle; James Mitchell, Charlie Powell, Will Brown.

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