Heathens up for the challenge as they head to Old Mid-Whitgiftian 

Jashan Solanki has been the star performer for Fareham Heathens. Picture: Keith Woodland
Jashan Solanki has been the star performer for Fareham Heathens. Picture: Keith Woodland
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Fareham Heathens are set for a big test of their squad when they face Old Mid-Whitgiftian of Surrey one in the RFU Junior Vase on Saturday.

A lot of players are unavailable for the match.

But Heathens will be looking forward to seeing how the others step up and cope with the contest.

Player-coach Dave Wheaton said: ‘This is an unknown for both teams.

‘We have injury and player availability concerns.

‘The late competition release date certainly hasn’t helped as many players took this weekend as a rest weekend and made alternative plans.

‘On the plus side it gives the perfect opportunity to see other fringe squad players make their mark.’

Heathens give senior debuts to Lee Slevin in the second row, Gary Wootton at tight-head, and Dave Richardson on the wing.

Skipper Rob Impey moves to fly-half.

Wheaton added: ‘I just want to see the lads play with confidence and enjoyment, with no need for unnecessary pressure. 

‘We have worked on improving our presentation of the ball and moving it quickly out wide.

‘It is a very simple concept in a very simple game.

‘Often it is the players who over complicate things.  

‘We have struggled at times in the league but mostly from our own doing.

‘It is a tough league to play in and though we possess the skills needed sometimes we lack the maturity, discipline and decision making that often costs us games.

‘We are not ready for promotion yet but certainly worthy of a position in this league.

‘There is a development programme through our second team and our older colts section to progress through to the senior section, 

‘It will take time and is no quick fix but exciting times are around the corner at Heathens.

‘This season’s stand-out player is without doubt our full-back Jashan Solanki, who is averaging two tries per game. 

‘At 23 years of age he is still learning but has shown maturity and vision at full-back and rightfully made the position his.’