CRAIG Burrows hopes to find out what his new Grove team are made of when he returns to the touchline this weekend.

The former Chinnor second row has been reappointed as the south Oxfordshire side’s head coach until the end of the season, following the resignation of Neil Hunter.

Burrows, who stepped down from the role in May 2016 after five years with the club, begins his second spell tomorrow with a home game against Witney.

He has inherited a side who sit third from bottom in South West 1 East after six games and is expecting a reaction from the players.

Burrows said: “Witney are a fantastic team.

“They’ve not started well either, but had a good win against Salisbury last week, so they will be coming to us with a lot of confidence.

“It will be a tough first game. It will be about finding out what we need to work on to move forward.

“The players will want to put their marker down to retain their place.”

Burrows, who is also Oxfordshire’s head coach, felt it was time for a new challenge when he left Grove 17 months ago.

They have stalled since, finishing 11th last season, before enduring a poor start to this campaign.

Burrows admitted he missed being involved in the sport on a weekly basis and has called on two former Grove players to help out.

James Eckert steps in as forwards coach and could return to the field as a player despite announcing his retirement last season, while Jimmy Wallbridge has been named first team manager.

Burrows, who hands Connor Hull his first start since the opening day, added: “It’s about making sure we retain the league status, that’s the initial target.

“Obviously, it’s a new experience for me.

"I’m coming in mid-way through the season, having to hit the ground running, trying to work out what the issues are and trying to solve them.

“The squad is good enough to stay up and the main challenge is to get everyone available as much as possible for the rest of the season.”

Witney make three changes, with James Merriman, Alan Richens and Adam Fisk starting.

Oxford Harlequins hand debuts to Tom Guthrie and Charles Craig, when they host Wimborne.

Ramez Farahani, Fotu Latu, Ralph Jones and Sam Watkinson return.

Banbury take on leaders Old Patesians in a top-of-the-table clash, while Bicester travel to Old Centralians.


Grove (v Witney, home): Monks, Matthews, Hull, Nicholl, Tokelove, J Wiltshire, Chilvers, Hook, Dixey, Walsh, Miles, Tyler, Horrocks, Turner, Bellinger. Reps: Wood, Maryon, P Wiltshire.

Witney (v Grove, away): Lambourne, B Fisk, Boshell, Godfrey, Morgan, Birks, G Campbell, Pilkington, Merriman, Richens, Webb, Mortimer, A Fisk, Allan, Bayliss. Reps: Lewis, Fuller, Edwards.

Oxford Harlequins (v Wimborne, home): Craig, Crowe, Stacey, Dimond, Nutt, Watkinson, Jones, Barlow, Guthrie, Ramez Farahani, White, Purchase, Taylor, Todd, Latu. Reps: Ramen Farahani, Ojo, Wiggins.

Wheatley (v Milton Keynes, away): from Acklam, Mitchell, Gabbidon, Banton, Gibb, Bland, C Taylor, Atkinson, Butler, Jack Taylor, Laman, Joe Taylor, Neal, Downer, Rule, Hook, Chadbone, Rees, Janes, Petterson.