RHYS Crane will make a dramatic return for London Welsh against Bristol tonight – eight months after his last appearance.
Crane starts on the wing for the play-off final first leg clash (7.45), having worked his way back from a severe hamstring injury.
That came on his debut at Nottingham on September 22, which also yielded a try in Welsh’s 46-19 victory.
“I am excited and thankful I got another opportunity to play this season,” said Crane.
“With my injury, I hoped I might get another go, but is always nice to get the call-up.
“I ruptured my hamstring and tore it off the bone.
“I had an operation and was out for five or six months.
“I then had some teething problems coming back – tight hamstrings, tight groins and things like that.”
Crane was loaned to National 1 club Blackheath to find match fitness before finally getting his chance.
“I just kept my head down, trained hard and reaped the rewards,” he said.
“I feel fresh. I guess most people have played a lot of games by this point and have got wear and tear.
“I am eager to play. I want to get out there and show people what I’m about.”
“I am only halfway there. Selection is halfway.
“I have got to front up because obviously I want to play in the next one as well.”
Crane is one of three changes made by head coach Justin Burnell, with No 8 Daniel Browne and scrum half Chris Cook the others.
Seb Stegmann moves from wing to full back to replace Alan Awcock, while back-row forward Richard Thorpe returns on the bench after his red card at Bristol.
Burnell said: “What do people know about Rhys Crane? I wouldn’t have thought a lot.
“I think he will be the surprise package.”
Nick Koster comes in at blindside flanker for Bristol Scrum half Luke Baldwin, hooker Ross Johnston and former England prop Jason Hobson also return.
London Welsh: Stegmann, Crane, May (capt), Jewell, Scott, Ross, Cook, Trevett, Morris, Edwards, Spencer, Corker, P Browne, Kirwan, D Browne. Reps: Vella, Bristow, Tideswell, West, Thorpe, R Lewis, Awcock.
Bristol: Wallace, Watkins, Tovey, Mosses, Short; Robinson, Baldwin, Traynor, Johnston, Hobson, Glynn, Townson, Koster, Mama, Jones (capt). Reps: Lawrence, Hall, Eadie, Skirving, Tipuna, Jarvis, Hughes.
Latest Sport news
2:30pm Sunday 1st February 2015
HIGHLIGHTS from Oxford United's 2-0 win at Stevenage, where Johnny Mullins and Callum O'Dowda were on target.
5:50pm Saturday 31st January 2015
ALEX MacDonald is due for a medical at Oxford United on Monday after agreeing personal terms.
5:39pm Saturday 31st January 2015
4:57pm Saturday 31st January 2015
GOALS from Johnny Mullins and Callum O'Dowda gave a gritty Oxford United their first victory of 2015.
1:58pm Saturday 31st January 2015
All the news from Oxford United's Sky Bet League Two clash at Stevenage.
9:30am Saturday 31st January 2015
Danny Hylton has warned Oxford United will get “eaten alive” at Stevenage today unless they match their hosts’ appetite for a battle.
8:30am Saturday 31st January 2015
Oxford United are likely to hand debuts to full backs Joe Skarz and Richard Brindley at Stevenage this afternoon.
8:20am Saturday 31st January 2015
MOST of the 16 anglers had to break the ice after North Oxford Angling Society’s match against Charlbury AC was switched from the Evenlode to the Oxford canal at Kings Bridge.
8:20am Saturday 31st January 2015
OXFORD City Stars welcome back two key players ahead of their crucial English National League encounter at home to Cardiff Devils tomorrow (6.15).