Stourbridge warhorse Marcus Cook may be long in the tooth and weary in the fetlock yet the 35-year-old still has work to do to help his team survive in National Two.
The former Moseley man has come out of retirement to answer the club’s plea for help to cover a squad decimated by injury but still in need of three more points to guarantee safety.
Stour’s relegation problem is nowhere near as acute as the one afflicting Cook’s knees and while the club can be sure of playing some level of rugby next season, in all likelihood in National Two for a ninth consecutive campaign, their backs coach is adamant he won’t be playing any.
In fact Cook will be stepping down from his position at Stourton Park in a few weeks’ time, first to have his aching joints operated on but ultimately to concentrate on his teaching career.
However, he will be pressed into service at Redruth this weekend, where he will share play-making duties with the considerably younger but no less injured Jon Higgins.
Director of rugby Neil Mitchell is hoping that a half from each will be enough to lift his team to the decisive victory at the Recreation Ground.
Forty minutes from Cook alone was not sufficient last time out when Tynedale came back from 19-0 down to leave the Midlands with a 31-27 victory.
“Marcus was fantastic for us but his knee swelled up like a space hopper, there was no way he could have gone on,” says Mitchell.
In fact Cook’s knee swells up whenever he does any exercise and while Mitchell hopes Higgins’ own knee problem will allow him to begin the game, he accepts he won’t get through the whole match. That’s where Cook comes in.
It is something of a gamble for Stour who can only go down if they don’t win any of their remaining three matches and Westcombe Park win all of theirs.