Dean Richards is hoping a free weekend will have given his Newcastle Falcons squad the time they need to prove their fitness for Sunday’s trip to London Irish.
The Kingston Park club have had a fortnight to prepare for the Madejski Stadium clash following the 17-12 loss to Worcester which has narrowed the gap between themselves and the bottom of the Premiership table to just nine points with four games left to play.
Hooker Scott Lawson bowed out of that match at the midway stage after taking a knock in the final play of the first half, Newcastle’s director of rugby saying: “Scott had a blow to the back.
“He will be all right, and it is nothing too serious.”
Richards also hopes to have scrum-half Mike Blair and wing Noah Cato back in the frame despite both pulling out of the squad before kick-off against Worcester.
He explained: “Mike dropped out five minutes before kick-off with an illness, where Noah was injured the day before after twisting his back.”
Crossing his fingers for the return of a handful of other injured stars, the Falcons boss added: “I am not normally a fan of the free weekends, but it could actually help us this time round and give us the chance for a few of the boys to make their way back.”
Meanwhile, Darlington Mowden Park co-coach Danny Brown says the departure of star scrum-half Zylon McGaffin in no way signals a lack of ambition from the National Two North contenders.
The 23-year-old South African has been snapped up by Championship side Rotherham, Brown wishing the former Blue Bulls academy player all the best as he prepares to step up two divisions.
“We have worked hard with Rotherham to move him up to that level, and it only goes to show we are a club which will help ambitious people who have the talent to play higher up the leagues,” said Brown, whose team remain locked in a promotion battle with Stourbridge and Macclesfield for a place in National One.
“We will shortly be announcing the re-signing of pretty much most of our squad over the next couple of weeks, as well as some new additions.
“But it is great news for Zylon that he has got this chance with Rotherham, and great also for the club. Myself and John Newton have always had the philosophy that we will develop players, and if they want to move on then let them.
“If they choose to stay then happy days for us.”