Former New Zealand international among the guests as Havant aim to impress

Havant are aiming to produce a performance fit for an All Black as they host Westcombe Park in London one south at Hooks Lane on Saturday (3pm).

Thursday, 28th March 2019, 2:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 2:51 pm
Havant's Harrison Young. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Former New Zealand international Craig Newby is speaking at the annual captain’s lunch in the clubhouse before the game.

A host of previous captains will be present to cast their eye over the present day team.

Senior coach Will Knight feels it will give his team an extra incentive as they look to return to winning ways.

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He said: ‘The team always love playing at home in front of our loyal band of vociferous supporters.

‘The captain’s lunch gives it that added bit of flavour.

‘We also want to put our disappointing defeat at Sevenoaks behind us.

‘In that game we didn’t play anywhere near our capabilities.

‘Also Westcombe Park beat us at their place earlier in the season in a game we felt we should have won.’

The home side make a number of changes in the forwards although their front row remains the same.

In the second row Harrison Young comes in to partner Richie Janes for the first time in almost half a season.

The back-row has a completely new look about it with Joe Davis, Steve Cruddas and Leigh Mellor all drafted in.

There are no changes in the three-quarters.

Will Knight is hoping for an improved performance from his side who are coming to terms with their new 4G pitch laid at the start of the season.

The boss added: ‘We are adapting to the new pitch and getting better at playing on it.

‘Every game we are learning more.

‘Potentially it produces a quicker game of rugby and is probably 10-per-cent quicker than playing on grass.

‘The danger is you are tempted to play fast open rugby all the time even when it isn’t appropriate.

‘The players all agree it is a fantastic surface which isn’t impacted by the weather.

‘It isn't just about the pitch because it is situated in a fantastic arena.

‘Few teams, if any at our level, can reproduce the atmosphere of Hooks Lane.

‘We have a big grandstand adjacent to the pitch and frequently attract 300 to 400 spectators.

‘The players are able to draw on the energy of the crowd.

‘Other teams coming to us agree that it is a special place to visit.’

The focus for Havant in their remaining three games is to finish as high up the league as they can.

Knight added: ‘We have three tough games to finish with so need to approach them in the right mindset.’