Stourbridge have been given special dispensation by the Rugby Football Union to sign reinforcements for their creaking front row.

Their director of rugby Neil Mitchell appealed to the governing body to be allowed to sign a hooker even though the transfer deadline has passed.

He has not, however, been able to do that yet and expects to have Rob Merritt out of retirement to take his place in the Stour squad to face Tynedale tomorrow.

Merritt, formerly of Bees and Worcester and once Stourbridge’s record appearance-holder, has not played National League rugby for nearly two years but a season-ending injury to Harry Collins and with Ben Gerry carrying a knock Mitchell has no other option.

He has, however, kept his hand in at Bromsgrove and while he has not played much this season he insists he has maintained his fitness.

“I spent such a long time at Stourbridge, in between going off to other clubs, that I just want to do anything I can to help,” the 36-year-old said.

“I will know if I can still manage it physically and fitness-wise in the first five minutes.

“I know I am going to be a bit ring rusty, playing at Bromsgrove is a different level to playing with Stourbridge, but I’ve got a lot of experience. Hopefully now we’ve made the decision I’ll get on at some stage, I’d hate to go back and feel like a spare part.”

Mitchell is still hopeful Gerry will pull through and that Merritt can start on the bench. But whoever plays he will be hoping for a better team performance than the one turned in at Waterloo last weekend, which resulted in a 10-5 defeat.

While Mitchell exempted many of his younger players from responsibility for the shock loss he was less tolerant of others.

“I was angry because senior players did not perform,” he said. “I hammered it home before that game that they could not take it lightly. But we had second rows in the backline and props waiting to score the winning try and be heroes. It was a complete shambles. We are going to have to be far more simplistic against Tynedale, inevitably there will be people playing out of position but we will have to be resolute in defence and straightforward in attack just as Waterloo were against us.”