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New Cornish Pirate Ashley Smith could play against Doncaster

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 08, 2013

Cornish Pirates' new signing Ashley Smith demonstrates his pace during training picture: Simon Bryant/Pinnacle

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Cornish Pirates coach Harvey Biljon hinted that new loan signing Ashley Smith could come into contention for this weekend's Championship match with Doncaster.

Pirates host the Knights, who are currently bottom of the Championship, at Mennaye Field on Sunday.

The Penzance club completed the signing of London Welsh wing Smith yesterday and he will stay with Pirates until the end of the season.

Head coach Ian Davies and his assistant Harvey Biljon must now decide whether to name the 21-year-old in their matchday squad this weekend.

Davies said: "After featuring a good number of times for London Welsh last season, his chances in 2012-13 have been limited. Ashley is blessed with genuine pace and has the attributes to lay down a real marker for us, especially when the pitches firm up."

Biljon added: "I'm not sure when we are going to see him. Potentially, he could be available against Doncaster but we will have a couple of fitness tests to run through in the backs.

"Ashley has come down and thrown himself into it and enjoyed the training thus far. He does have a few skills that he is likely to bring."

Sunday's match will be Pirates' first since their British and Irish Cup defeat to Carmarthen Quins on January 19. Their Championship clash against Newcastle, due to take place on January 25, was called off due to bad weather.

Such a breaks bring positives and negatives, according to Biljon. He said: "It was summed up by one or two of the players in training this week when they said they were chomping at the bit to play this weekend.

"It does seem like it has been a little while but everyone is very keen. We think, as a coaching team, that after a really good couple of weeks' training, it has been revitalising in many ways.

"The difficulty of having time off is that although you get time to recover, you also want to be playing rugby and be battle-hardened.

"The game against Doncaster is a whole new challenge, not just because we haven't played in a while, but also they are playing for their lives.

"It is going to be tough and an emotional occasion for them and we just need to stick to task and be as professional as we can be."

The Knights are likely to pose a different challenge to their previous meeting with the Pirates in September, when the sides drew 18-18 at Castle Park. Their new director of rugby Clive Griffiths replaced Brett Davey in November.

However, Pirates have been given an insight into the new-look Knights by Matt Evans, who has worked with Griffiths during spells playing the Canadian national team.

"Clive has come in and made some defensive changes in their game," said Biljon. "He has also brought in a couple of players like Joe Bedford and Connor Braid at nine and ten, who are definitely going to add the Doncaster squad.

"Matt Evans will be back in our team at the weekend. Clive Griffiths has done a lot of defence work for Canada so Matt has been giving us little bits of information during the week as we have been doing our analysis. Hopefully, we do have a little bit of insight gained that we can use this weekend."

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