SUNDERLAND go into Saturday’s Durham and Northumberland Division One game at home to Ryton with a pack decimated by injury and unavailability.
With Andy Black, Alan Ross and Bryan Finlay all unavailable, injuries picked up by Andy Wordsworth and John Drummond in last week’s victory over Redcar couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Both are expected to be missing for a number of weeks, so the new-look pack could form the basis of the side for weeks to come.
Sunderland’s forwards have been the driving force behinds Sunderland’s recent revival, providing good ball for the backs to do their damage whilst contributing with a number of tries of their own in the process.
Captain Martin Watt is looking to those coming into the side to continue the good work of recent weeks and provide him with a selection headache in the weeks ahead as those missing this week become available for selection again.
The changes see Andy Mackie replacing John Drummond for a rare start on the flank. with Jake Belfield moving into the back row in place of Andy Black.
An all new second row sees Pete Carter make his return to the first team starting lineup since picking up back and knee injuries in pre season and he is partnered by Craig Elstob who is rewarded for some good recent performances for the seconds.
Andy Hall starts in place of Alan Ross meaning the scrum won’t be weakened any in the front row, with Ryan Buckley providing cover on the bench.
Tony Irwin gives the side a boost by making himself available for a one-off game and his physical presence and experience off the bench could prove vital.
In the backs, Dan Abraham returns to replace Jack Birkett, who is unavailable. The only other change sees Matt Francis come in on the wing with Michael Walton dropping down to the bench.
The seconds are in the pool awaiting confirmation of a fixture.
Their squad has been severely affected by call-ups to the firsts but the spirit in the squad means they are confident of continuing their good run. A squad is named with final selection being made on the day.
Sunderland thirds travel to Jarrow, with Tony Watt’s side looking to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to Bishop.
Sunderland I at home to Ryton, 12.45 meet: Arrowsmith, Harrison, Hall, Carter, Elstob, Belfield, Mackie, Watt, Bains, Dobson, Abraham, Maclennan, Townend, Francis, Littlewood. Reps: Buckley, Irwin, Walton.
Sunderland II, pool fixture, 12.30 meet. From: Summers, Bengochea, Geehan, Hirst, Smith, Penni, Gaul, Wilson, Matthews, Brace, Meechan, Jordan, Bain, Tolley, Jermy, Watson, Simpson, Lewandowski.
Sunderland III away to Jarrow, 12.30 meet: Deighton, Wright, Turnbull, Belfield, Fish, Jackson, Harrison, Lloyd, Hailey, Grainger, Hands, Graham, Simpson, Hinder, Ditchburn. Reps: Collins, Gallimore, Groark, Lawson.