Whitehead shelves retirement plans

Dai Whitehead
Dai Whitehead
Luke Simmons slides in for the opening try. Picture: Neil Marshall (171730-1)

Portsmouth closing in on Twickenham dream

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Veteran prop forward Dai Whitehead has come out of his one-game retirement to help Gosport & Fareham in their crucial London two south west relegation clash at KCS Old Boys.

With three games remaining, both teams are in danger of joining already relegated Weybridge Vandals.

The visitors go into the game with a 16-point advantage but can’t afford to take anything for granted.

Gosport & Fareham make six changes as they approach full strength.

Whitehead, 49, replaces Trevor Westerman, who slips to the bench.

Jonathan Wood returns at full-back after recovering from an ankle injury.

He replaces the injured Sam Foster, who picked up a thigh strain last weekend.

Winger Pat Mulholland, 32, has followed Whitehead’s lead and decided to retire.

That leaves the path clear for 18-year-old Callum Patterson to start, ahead of Ryan Thorne.

Matt Flower is back at number eight and Jason Barnes is preferred to Ash Wakefield in the back row.

Finally, Toby Woodford returns in the second row for Anthony Reynolds.

‘The players know what they have to do – if we win we will secure our future in this league because KCS won’t be able to catch us,’ said director of rugby Jamie Daly.

‘We have strengthened the side that lost to Bognor.

‘This is a test for the players to show us they can win when the pressure is on.

‘KCS are in the same position but need to win all their games to survive.

‘We have a 16-point advantage going into this match but KCS won’t take any notice of that.

‘This is going to be a very hard, physical game with everything at stake.’

Gosport & Fareham: Wood, Heron, Dugan Wayne, Moggeridge, Paterson, Duncombe, Dugan Wes, Burton, Clark, Whitehead, Woodford, Pollard, Barnes, Snowden, Flower, Westerman, Wakefield, Thorne.

n Petersfield travel to basement side London South Africa in London south west three.

United Services can move into the top four of Hampshire one if they beat Romsey at Burnaby Road.

Bottom club Fareham Heathens cross the Solent to take on the Isle of Wight.

Southsea Nomads welcome Aldershot & Fleet to Furze Lane in Hampshire two.