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Gavin Cattle recognises he faces challenge from Tom Kessell for key role

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 10, 2013

By Bill Sobey at Mennaye Field

Gavin Cattle

Gavin Cattle

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Fit-again Cornish Pirates skipper Gavin Cattle expects a battle with Tom Kessell for his first-team place as the crucial phase of the 2013-14 season approaches.

Scrum-half Cattle injured his back in the British and Irish Cup in October and played his first half of rugby in two months in the Pirates' Championship draw at Nottingham last week before playing the full game against Jersey last Saturday.

Although he admits he is still a little way short of top form, the Welshman hopes to produce his best as the season progresses.

Cattle praised the impact of fellow half-back Kessell, who has scored seven tries in as many starts so far this season.

He said: "I have worked with Tom for a few years and I'm under no illusions that the balance between us is going to change. I'm not getting any younger and he is maturing really well.

"He is a pleasure to work alongside. You obviously want to start every game, but you have to be able to pick and choose as well sometimes and maybe more games will go to him.

"I'm really pleased for Tom because he has worked so hard over the last few years and it is nice to see him maturing as a player. Those boys are obviously going to push us out in time and I've had a good spell at Pirates, but I've got a little bit left in me.

"I just want to do the best I can for the club, even if that's sitting on the bench and coming on for 15 minutes or starting and playing 80 minutes.

"I could have asked for more in terms of my performance against Jersey, but not in terms of how my body felt. I'm feeling fine.

"When we get to the business end of the season, it will be up to the coaches to choose who is in form. I will do whatever it takes.

"This is my eighth season at the club and it feels like my club. I have genuine feelings for the club and I want it to do well. Even if I'm not playing, I want to help the team as best I can."

The Pirates are in the midst of three games against the Islanders in five weeks. They lost in the Championship at St Peter's on November 16 before beating them in the British and Irish Cup last Saturday.

The third encounter between the sides takes place this weekend and Cattle believes a better performance will be required, despite their 31-20 success at Mennaye Field in their most recent meeting.

Indeed, it took two late tries to secure the win and the bonus point. Cattle said: "It was a really strange game. It was more about relief at the end because we absorbed a lot of pressure and wasted a lot of time under our own sticks, but the pleasing thing for me was the attitude of the players.

"We knew we could do it because we looked dangerous when we keep the ball. It was just a lot of simple elementary errors from us – stuff you learn at school like ball presentation and looking after it at contact.

"We are a pretty honest group. The front row put their hands up because they feel they didn't perform, but it was a combination of errors.

"It might have just been one or two per person, but they mounted up and created pressure when we should have been in control of the game."

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