Lee Chandler has a key role to play as Portsmouth fight for London two south west survival – starting against Trojans at Rugby Camp tomorrow.
The centre has been switched to the playmaker position at outside-half to replace the injured Dan Neville.
Neville has damaged knee ligaments which is likely to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.
It is a big blow for the city club who start the second half of the season third from bottom.
‘Losing our experienced outside-half at this stage of the season is a big blow,’ said director of rugby Ed Neville.
‘He controlled the game for us and at times got us out of trouble with his kicking.
‘Luckily, we have got Lee to come in who we know will do a good job.
‘Lee is an excellent passer of the ball and good at getting the back line moving.
‘Defensively, he is very strong and gives us a good physical presence.’
Portsmouth will be keen for Chandler to unleash centres Tom Radbourne and Dan Gates against Trojans.
With Curtis Barnes and Danny Harris on the wings, and Chris Morgan at full-back, Portsmouth feel they possess a good attacking threat.
They will, however, need to show a big improvement to overturn a heavy defeat at the hands of Trojans early in the season.
‘We will have to be at our best but it is a game that we feel we are now capable of winning,’ said Neville.
United Services Portsmouth intend to switch their Hampshire one showdown against Alton to their 3G pitch at HMS Temeraire.
A win will keep Services in promotion contention, as one of six teams battling it out at the top.
‘It is important to start the new year with a win and preferably with a bonus point,’ said director of rugby Simon Burns.
‘We are fielding a strong side and were able to get on our 3G pitch in the week for a triangular session with Havant and Portsmouth.’
In Hampshire two, Petersfield will fancy their chances of returning to the top by beating Fawley at Penns Place.
Locks Heath Pumas travel to Aldershot & Fleet.