Otley delighted to have selection headache

Freddie Watson is one player trying to force his way back into Otley's starting XV

Freddie Watson is one player trying to force his way back into Otley's starting XV

First published in Sport Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Bradford Bulls Reporter

Otley coach Tom Rock has a welcome problem as his side look to extend their winning SSE National League Two North start to three games at Stockport on Saturday – a selection headache.

Rock has been delighted with the early form of his side and now has players such as Freddie Watson,  Michael Coady and Luke Watts trying to force their way in.

The Otley player-coach said: “It is a nice position to be in, and not one we have been used to.

“In the past we haven’t had competition for places but it is a sign of the progress we are making that we now have tough choices to make about who to play.

“I am not complaining about it because it is a sign that things are moving in the right direction.”

Until last week when they lost narrowly at Esher, Wharfedale’s next hosts Blackheath had recorded 12 successive bonus-point wins since losing at Wharfedale last January.

That was good enough to put them into third place in the final SSE National League One table, their best finish in the eight seasons since their promotion in 2004-05.

Blackheath’s close-season coup was the signing from Cinderford of fly half Rory Teague, reportedly in the face of competition from Championship clubs.

Last season, Teague logged 254 points, and has already scored 35 for his new club, thanks mainly to Blackheath’s eight-try drubbing of Loughborough Students.

The Wharfedale selectors have promoted Joe Donkin to the starting line-up and, with the luxury of England Sevens star Aaron Myers once again being available and on the bench, go with just the one backs replacement, the versatile Will Bell.

Baildon manager Andrew Whitley admits his in-form side are making a trip into the unknown at Rotherham Phoenix in SSE Yorkshire Division Three.

Whitley’s men have won their opening two games and top the table, but he said: “We’re not quite sure what to expect from Rotherham because they beat Leeds Medics and then lost quite badly last week to Aireborough.”

Whitley revealed that four players could be missing, with Adam Hewitt a definite absentee. He is set for between four and six weeks on the sidelines after undergoing a knee operation.

Ben Newton, Marcus Dracup and Richard Kingham could also be missing due to a combination of unavailability and squad rotation.

Director of rugby Graeme Sheffield admits the return to Keighley of Liam McGee with Northern will provide added spice to their SSE North One East clash.

Sheffield will select from an unchanged squad and said: “Northern are quite a mobile side in the forward and also have a solid set of backs.

“This weekend will be a test as Danny McGee’s brother Liam is coming back to the club with Northern – he’s working up there – and we believe he will be playing on the wing - but it’s about what we do.”

Wharfedale (home to Blackheath): C Georgiou; N Taylor, J Donkin, A Hodgson, S Horsfall; L Gray, J Gough; C Steel, S Graham, A Howard, R Brown, R Rhodes, A Allen, R Baldwin, J Tyson. Replacements: M Tampin, I Larkin, A Myers, C Howick, W Bell.

Keighley (home to Northern): A Sutcliffe; M Phillips, B Blackwell, S Dyson, L Carter; D McGee, D Lester; P Sinfield, W Armitage, G Fletcher, A Waligura, R Clarke, S Brown, J Hannah, L Sugden, Replacements: C Spencer, S Minikin, L Uren.

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