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Cowan-Dickie primed for first start as Plymouth Albion hooker

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 11, 2013

Luke Cowan-Dickie in action for Plymouth Albion against Newcastle Falcons    Steve Bond/Pinnacle

Luke Cowan-Dickie in action for Plymouth Albion against Newcastle Falcons Steve Bond/Pinnacle

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Luke Cowan-Dickie will make his competitive debut at hooker tomorrow when Plymouth Albion welcome Rotherham to Brickfields in the British and Irish Cup.

The decision by Albion to switch the dual-registered England Under-20 international from prop to hooker comes just a couple of weeks after Cornish Pirates coach Ian Davies revealed that Exeter were considering removing Cowan-Dickie from Brickfields and sending him to the Pirates to gain experience in the number two shirt.

Last week, Albion head coach Nat Saumi said that Cowan-Dickie's parent club Exeter would wait until the end of this month before deciding where the youngster would finish the season.

"I think everyone knows what was written about it [Cowan-Dickie's situation]," said Saumi. "Exeter want to try him at hooker.

"We have a number of dual-registered players from Exeter as we can't afford a lot of players and they have asked us to play him at hooker as a favour.

"We are going to give him a chance. We want to help him in his career.

"It will be the first game he has played at hooker and it is against a Championship side, but he has been practising for a few months now."

Saumi, who is resting regular hooker Jon Vickers, did admit it was tough on Tom Cowan-Dickie and Jamie Salter, who have been Albion's second and third-choice hookers this term. But Albion's head coach said he had talked to them and they understood the situation.

Fellow dual-registered Exeter players Will Carrick-Smith and Jack Arnott come into Albion's starting line-up tomorrow, while another Chiefs player, Alex Brown, could make his debut from the bench.

Brown was dual-registered with Albion at the start of December but has yet to feature for the club due to injury.

"It's great to have him [Brown] available after injury," said Saumi.

Albion will have a tall pack tomorrow. Sprangle, at 6ft 3in, will be their smallest back five forward, with Carrick-Smith at 6ft 10in their tallest.

Carrick-Smith has yet to play for Albion in the Championship but he has featured in three British and Irish Cup matches, including the away game against Rotherham back in October.

"I want to have a look at him again," said Saumi. "We have been struggling with line-outs and it will be good to have his height. Hopefully, we can get some possession from line-outs. But I also want to look at his mobility and movement around the park."

Albion were crushed 59-26 at Rotherham when the sides met in the Cup at Clifton Lane.

Saumi would love to gain revenge for that big loss tomorrow and keep alive Albion's faint hopes of progressing into the quarter-finals of the competition.

Albion must win this weekend to have any hope of going into their final group game against Munster in Cork on January 18 with a chance of reaching the last eight.

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