EDF ENERGY NATIONAL TROPHY
The two highest ranked sides in the EDF Energy National Trophy meet at Sharmans Cross Road tomorrow with many onlookers keen to extrapolate events beyond a single cup tie.
Birmingham & Solihull, second placed in National Two, welcome league leaders Redruth to the Midlands for an intriguing encounter that could hand either of them a crucial psychological advantage during the final half of the season.
Bees have already lost three times in the league and are seven points behind the Cornishmen in the race for the one promotion place. Quite how damaging another reverse – at home to their closest rivals – would be, is anyone’s guess.
Yet their head coach Russell Earnshaw insists the match is only a storm in a cup and does not have any relevance beyond who will be in the hat when the National One teams are thrown in on Monday.
“It will have no bearing at all on what happens this season,” Earnshaw insists. “We have got footage of them, they’ve got footage of us, we know a few of their players, they know a few of ours – it’s just another game. We have 14 cup finals left this season and if we win on Saturday we’ll still have 14. I just don’t see it having a psychological affect.
“It will be interesting to see how they take it. Whatever side they put out we want to beat it. If they beat us fair play to them but I don’t think it will happen.”
That cause will be helped by a fully fit squad. Even long-term injury Andy Daish is on the mend. Having not played at all in 2008-09, last season’s leading scorer is scheduled to make a come back in January.
There are others in the squad, however, who have as much to prove following last weekend’s debilitating 28-24 loss at home to Tynedale. After tearing their last five opponents to shreds, some for whole games others for scintillating patches, Bees played within themselves last Saturday and were not true to their attacking instincts.
They spent all of Wednesday working on defence in training but it will be a return to their attacking ways that Earnshaw demands most.
“We just want to get on the pitch and right a few wrongs from last Saturday,” he said.
“The guys are a little bit like kids waiting in the classroom for the bell to go.
“We didn’t play our ‘No fear’ type of rugby against Tynedale so we’ve got to get back to off-loading and taking the game to teams.”
n Bees winger Joe Mbu has announced his early retirement from rugby after failing to regain full fitness following knee surgery.
The former Bath and Wasps man, who arrived at Birmingham & Solihull via French side US Dax, picked up the injury during the first pre-season outing, against Bridgend in August.
“Following doctor’s advice I’m taking some time out of the game,” Mbu said. “A lot of the cartilage in my knee is worn and at 26 I’m still young, but I’ve been playing rugby since I was 12 and for a career since I was 17 so it’s time to try and recover. I’ll evaluate in a year and come back to the game if I can.
“I’m really eager to enhance my coaching skills and gain further qualifications.
“I’m returning to France soon but will then be onward travelling to Los Angeles where I would love to pick up some coaching work.”