Steve Cruddas will aim to celebrate his 200th league appearance for Havant in style with a win over Hampshire rivals Basingstoke in London one south at Hooks Lane tomorrow (2.30pm).
The reliable wing-forward came through the club’s junior ranks and went on to captain Havant when they played at National League level.
He left Hooks Lane to spend a couple of years down the coast at Brighton but returned at the start of this season.
Coach Will Knight believes the 31-year-old is a key man.
‘Steve is proving to be a massive asset, bringing an added level of intensity to our game,’ said Knight.
‘His experience and ability to give 100 per cent rubs off on a lot of our younger players.
‘He always gives his all and demands the same from his team-mates.
‘In our club, I think only two other players have played 200 league games so it is a huge achievement.
‘It is a very exclusive club and a fantastic achievement.
‘He would love to mark the achievement with a win over our traditional rivals.’
Basingstoke are in turmoil after having had 15 points deducted for fielding an ineligible player.
Club officials have also been charged by the Rugby Football Union for administrative irregularities.
Knight, however, expects the usual fiery encounter against their biggest rivals.
‘Games against Basingstoke are always hard-fought, fiery affairs,’ said Knight – a veteran of many local derbies against the North Hampshire side.
‘I still view them as one of the top sides in our league and they will be coming down here all-guns blazing.
‘It should be a battle royal.
‘They will see it as an opportunity to get their season back on track after four straight defeats.
‘I am expecting nothing less than another full-blooded affair.’
Havant received a boost this week with the announcement they had been awarded the points from their game against league-leaders Sidcup earlier this season.
Knight’s team lost the game in Kent by a point but in the second half the home side failed to provide a front-row replacement.
As a result the game went to uncontested scrums.
But the rules state teams have to include a specialist front-row replacement in their squad.
‘Getting the points this way doesn’t sit comfortably but those are the rules,’ said Knight.
Pete Living is drafted in on the wing to replace the injured Rob Paterson, while Ed Wilkes returns after a spell of semi-professional rugby in France and will also play on the wing.
Sam Cooksley is available again to take over the hooker berth.
Knight believes performances have been improving for Havant.
He is determined to see the team turn their stronger displays into points so they can push up the London one south table.
‘Performances have been improving – now we need to grind out a few more wins,’ said Knight.
Havant: Pat Gains, Pete Living, Ben Brierley, Joel Knight,
Ed Wilkes, Dave Sweeney, Jake Reynolds, Luke Marks,
Sam Cooksley, Jack Ward-Golden, Joe Davis, Niall Copeland,
Steve Cruddas, Mike Brook, Dan Munden. Replacements:
Justin Powell, Loz Warren-West, Grant Morris