HAVANT are hoping the comeback of wing-forward Steve Cruddas can inspire a return to winning ways in London one south against Sutton & Epsom at Hooks Lane (2pm).
Head coach Will Knight is delighted to have his experienced forward back in the fold after he missed the heavy defeat at Brighton last Saturday.
He appreciates the difference the physicality and experience of Cruddas can bring to his side.
‘Steve brings a greater level of intensity to our game with his tenacious approach,’ said Knight.
‘His experience is invaluable, having played over 200 games for Havant.
‘Steve is a brutal rugby player who gives 110 per cent to everything he does.
‘He is a full-blooded player in his rucking, running with the ball and tackling.
‘His attitude also rubs off on the rest of the players in the team and helps them lift their game.’
Knight is also hoping to have another big, influential forward back in the side, with Gav Hart looking to recover from his broken finger.
Hart is another massive player with National League experience at Richmond and Bournemouth.
Again, Hart can bring a lot to the team, with his calmness, creative ability and excellent distribution complementing the work of Cruddas.
When both are in tandem, Havant have shown they can be a match for most if not all the teams in their league.
The Hooks Lane side are looking for their third successive home success of the season after convincing wins over Dover and Twickenham. Sutton & Epsom, who have won three of their opening four games, will, however, present Havant with their sternest test yet.
‘This is a tough game because Sutton & Epsom have been one of the top sides in the last few years,’ added Knight.
‘They have been knocking on the door for promotion.
‘Their coach is ex-England scrum-half Paul Hodgson and he has been known to put his boots on for them.
‘We will need to lift our game after the disappointing defeat at Brighton.
‘There is no doubt we will have to raise the level of our game.
‘This will be a real challenge but we have been good at home so far this season.
‘We scored four tries in both our home wins and looked very accomplished.
‘I am looking for us to recapture the confidence from those two games.’
Havant keep faith with the same front five from the Brighton defeat but Luke Barfoot moves to blindside wing-forward.
In the three-quarters department, Loz Blackburn returns in the centre and Ben Brierley moves out to the wing.
‘We must look to put the disappointing performance at Brighton behind us,’ said Knight.
‘The players were extremely deflated by it and are determined to put things right.
‘That showed in Tuesday night’s training session which was the most intense I have seen for a couple of seasons.’
Havant: Ed Wilks, Ben Brierley, Loz Blackburn, Joel Knight,
Harry Carr, Dave Sweeney, Jake Reynolds, Luke Marks,
Jerome Trail, Jack Ward-Golden, Harrison Young, Bruce Neil,
Luke Barfoot, Steve Cruddas, Gav Hart. Replacements: Zac Saliba, Tim Miller, Grant Morris