James Shanahan craves a clean bill of health for Cambridge University

PUBLISHED: 07:02 01 November 2017

James Shanahan, left, after last year's Varsity Match.

James Shanahan, left, after last year's Varsity Match.

Iliffe Media Ltd

Light Blues set for Moseley challenge

James Shanahan is hoping that Cambridge University can have a run of games steering clear of injuries as they step up their preparations for the Varsity Match on Thursday, December 7.

The Light Blues have been hindered in their attempts to find some continuity this Michaelmas Term as frequent niggles have led to regular team changes.

But the match at home to Moseley tonight (November 1, kick off 7.30pm) marks four games to go before facing Oxford at Twickenham.

And after a promising first three games of the season, it has been a bit more stop-start in recent weeks after defeats to Northampton Saints, Trinity College Dublin and Richmond.

“We’re not having a lot of luck with injuries, so getting a balanced, regular team out has been difficult,” said head coach Shanahan.

“The first three games were promising. Going to Trinity College was always going to massively difficult, and last week [against Richmond] was a disappointment because we just didn’t give a good account of ourselves.

“It’s a bit frustrating as we keep stalling and having to start again. There are always teething problems this term and it’s never perfect.

“The boys are working hard and we just need to produce what we’re doing in training.

“We just want to get a fit 23 players each week.”

Shanahan looks to last year when the Light Blues had an established squad in the build-up to the Varsity Match, and he believes that was a crucial factor in their victory as the players were able to just concentrate on their rugby.

“They enjoyed it and it wasn’t a worry about the occasion,” he said. “They knew they had been doing it for the last 10 weeks.

“It’s just trying to get back to that frame of mind which I’m sure we can in the next four weeks.”

The injuries are not long-term problems, but are inhibiting the ability to put out a first-choice pack.

“It’s nothing serious, but they are all missing the odd game here and there,” said Shanahan. “We just need everyone fit so we can put a bit of competition on all the boys to see the best combinations.”

But he added: “As a coach, you want less injuries and a little bit more time, which we don’t have either of.”

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