CORNISH Pirates kick off their 2024 programme by visiting Championship newcomers Cambridge tomorrow, with the kick-off at the Ellgia Fields 2pm, writes Phil Westren.

Cambridge who won 28-26 away to London Scottish last time out, but the Pirates beat them 62-17 away in the Premiership Rugby Cup earlier this season.

However, Cambridge have started to show signs they are finding their feet at a higher level, and are therefore clearly a team who can be seen as a potential threat.

Pirates welcome back fit-again full-back Kyle Moyle. Will Trewin moves out to the wing and there is a new centre pairing with Robin Wedlake named to partner Joe Elderkin.

In the forwards, prop Fin Richardson will make his first league start for the Pirates, whilst Josh Williams is selected alongside Steele Barker in the second row.

Club captain John Stevens is presently injured, so flanker Alex Everett will wear the skipper’s armband, with Hugh Bokenham stepping back into the back row at number 8.

On the bench, it is pleasing to see Will Britton listed. Recovered from a knee injury, if he makes an appearance then it will be his first league outing this season.

Pirates' coach Louie Tonkin said: "Having had a tough and physical game against Hartpury just before Christmas, the three-week break since then has enabled us to get some of the boys back to full health, along with one or two others who were recovering from injury.

"We are aware Cambridge are a massively improved side to when we played them back in September, certainly around their kicking game, and their pack is also a real force. They had a really good win away to London Scottish and have developed into a team who we need to take very seriously.”

Cambridge head coach Richie Williams said: "Cornish Pirates are a team that beat us by 50 points earlier in the season during the Premiership Cup. They are an experienced and battle-hardened championship outfit, who are well coached.  Everyone is desperate to build on our last performance and more importantly, put together a committed and disciplined performance at home.

“We are selecting from a very similar squad who played against London Scottish. We welcome back both Geordie Irvine and Kieran Verden from Northampton Saints and Bath respectively and we will also see the return of Jared Cardew to the squad. A huge congratulations also goes out to Matt Dawson who will be making his 50th appearance for the club on Saturday.”

Cambridge: Eli Caven, Kwaku Asiedu, Tom Hoppe, Jamie Benson, Joe Green, Steffan James, Kieran Duffin, Jake Ellwood, Ben Brownlie, Kieran Verden, George Bretag Norris (capt), Geordie Irvine, Benji Hoppe, Jared Cardew, Anthony Maka. Replacements: Morgan Veness, Huw Owen, Matt Collins, Kieran Frost, Ben Adams, Sam Hanks, Nahum Merigan, Matt Dawson.

Cornish Pirates: Kyle Moyle, Will Trewin, Robin Wedlake, Joe Elderkin, Matt McNab, Bruce Houston, Alex Schwarz, Lefty Zigiriadis, Morgan Nelson, Fin Richardson, Josh Willams, Steele Barker, Alex Everett (capt), Will Gibson, Hugh Bokenham. Replacements: Rhys Williams, Jacob Morris, Matt Johnson, Will Britton, Harry Dugmore, Ruaridh Dawson, Iwan Jenkins, Tom Pittman.