Chandler set to unleash young guns on Cobham

Portsmouth head coach Ian Chandler
Portsmouth head coach Ian Chandler
Scott Morris. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

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Portsmouth will unleash more young guns when they host Cobham in London south one tomorrow (3pm).

Eighteen-year-old outside-half Simon Morgan and colts captain Rob Gicquel are the latest to roll off the impressive Rugby Camp production line.

And head coach Ian Chandler is delighted to welcome them on board.

‘Of the 18 players named in the squad this weekend, 13 of them have come through our junior ranks,’ he said.

‘I don’t think there are many clubs at any level who can boast that.

‘Both players coming in are excellent prospects and will gain valuable experience at this stage of the season.

‘Simon, son of our rugby manager Nigel Morgan, is an outstanding kicking outside-half.

‘He kicks well out of hand and is capable of putting us into good positions.

‘Rob is another very talented and exciting prospect at number eight.

‘Both players have excelled playing for the successful Hampshire under-20 side and fully deserve their chance.’

Portsmouth are looking to return to winning ways after a draw and three defeats in the last month, including a disappointing loss at Thanet Wanderers last weekend.

It was a rare occasion when the club’s pack failed to fire and, as a result, were caught cold by a team at the wrong end of the table.

The only player to come out of the Thanet defeat with credit was Kiwi back Ben Whitley, who performed admirably after moving from his regular full-back berth into the centre.

Unsurprisingly, he will be retained in the centre this weekend, partnering Harry Hodell, who returns from his Hampshire under-20 commitments.

Portsmouth have already beaten Cobham once in the league this season – edging home by a point in a very tight away contest – but are expecting a tough test.

The visitors are the only team this season to beat runaway league leaders Tonbridge Juddians, so will pose a dangerous threat.

‘After the last few weeks our players have a few things to prove to themselves,’ said Chandler.

‘We are determined to finish the season in a positive fashion.

‘So far we have won 11 of our 22 matches and, with four games to go, the target is to finish with a plus-wins ratio and points difference.

‘Then we will be able to truly say we have had a successful season after being relegated last year.

‘We have said all along we have a three-year plan for developing our team and what we have achieved so far is a credit to the kids in our side.’

Portsmouth: Whitehouse, Hazeldine, Gates, Hodell, Whiteley, Botten, Morgan, Sargent, Hoolihan, Hankey, French, Lynch, Brock, Long, Crabb, Goldsmith, Graham, Gicquel.