Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pilgrim's Set to Progress

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pilgrim's Set to Progress

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK PUREWAL

CHRIS PILGRIM and Jeremy Manning will form an all-new Falcons half-back pairing at Sale tomorrow night.

The Falcons will open their Aviva Premiership campaign at Edgeley Park (kick-off 7.45pm) with Premiership Golden Boot winner Jimmy Gopperth and England Saxons scrum-half Micky Young on the bench.

New Falcons head coach Alan Tait told the Chronicle he was not prepared to risk either half-back star, given that both are still recovering from injury.

Admitting he would have risked both Gopperth and Young in different circumstances, Tait said greater strength in depth allows him to ease the burden on his front-line troops this term.

Gopperth's ankle surgery has eased bone spur pressure on his Achilles tendon, while Young picked up a groin strain at the Middlesex Sevens.

Former British Lions and Scotland centre Tait believes the first game of the season is not the time to risk either man.

Tait explained: "It's not a case of form particularly, it's more a case of not taking any unnecessary risks.

"We've gone with the guys who have been fit, training at full intensity and have been involved in all the rugby across the summer.

"Jimmy has only been coming back from the last three weeks after his ankle injury, while Micky hurt his groin at the Middlesex Sevens and has been working back to full fitness from that.

"Hall Charlton has been battling to get over a hamstring injury for the last six weeks too, so we have gone with the guys who are at their sharpest.

"If this was the last month of the season we might have pitched them in and asked them to battle through until they could have a rest, but there's a long way to go yet, and we've got to manage everyone correctly." Natural tighthead prop Kieran Brookes will continue to understudy for hooker Rob Vickers, with Matt Thompson only just starting rehab after a hernia operation and Joe Graham still struggling with a nasty heel problem. …

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