Kailus Hutchinson primed for Cambridge debut away to Rotherham in National League One
Kailus Hutchinson will make his first-team debut for Cambridge in their trip to Rotherham in National League One on Saturday (September 28).
The youngster is on-loan from Coventry and, having caught the eye in the Wanderers, is set to be one of two changes to the pack.
Hutchinson comes into the second row as captain George Bretag-Norris is ruled out with tonsillitis
“He is another player that has come through the England Counties under-20s and is the same age as Alex Rayment,” said Cambridge head coach Richie Williams.
“When we went over to Georgia two years ago, Kalius was an integral part of that team so I’ve known him for a while.
“He has had a couple of games in our second XV and acquitted himself really well.”
Hutchinson will be joined in the second row by Gareth Baxter, with Rob Conquest dropping to the bench.
There is also a personnel change in the backs, and a number of positional switches, with Ben Penfold coming in for Rhodri Adamson.
Cambridge lost 19-15 to a late try at Volac Park to 14-man Cinderford last weekend, but their form on the road has been better than at home.
“It worked out last season that some of our better performances were when we were playing away from Grantchester Road,” said Williams.
“Last season, we had a good result and really good performance up in Rotherham, so that will help going into the game this weekend.
“They have started the season similar to ourselves. They have won one game and lost two, but are traditionally a very good side at home.
“They play on a particularly narrow pitch, and have a very vocal home support.
“We know we will be under a lot of pressure. We know what is coming but we’ve got to control possession a lot better than we did last week.
“The players are frustrated with not getting a result last Saturday so hopefully that will be a bit of extra motivation this weekend.”
The blueprint for the performance will no doubt be the 36-27 win at Bishop’s Stortford two weeks ago, with the defeat to Cinderford still rankling, especially as the visitors had a player sin-binned after 20 minutes.
And Williams admits that frustration was the main emotion after the game.
“We knew what was coming from Cinderford, and true to script they scrummaged really well and relied on their driving line-out,” he said.
“Frustratingly, we couldn’t get our hands on the ball for long enough periods in the game and even when they went down to 14 players, the ball that we had we probably didn’t use it as well as we did the previous week against Bishop’s Stortford.
“It was disappointing because to operate on about 20 per cent possession, you are living off scraps.
“Defensively, it’s probably the best work out that we’ve had this season. There were large periods of the game where we were camped on our try-line and we were pretty resolute with our defence, so that was the pleasing thing to take from the game.
“I probably wrongly assumed that when their No 8 went off that would be our game, and the players thought something similar as well.
“I think it galvanised Cinderford a little bit. They shut up shop, they closed their attack even more than they had in the first couple of weeks of the season and relied on their front-five forwards to get them field position and to score tries.
“They were good in fairness to them. They had a pretty simple game-plan but they were effective with it, and we could not get our hands on the ball for long enough periods to put them under any pressure.”