ENGLISH import Tom Wilmore will start at halfback for the Albury-Wodonga Steamers in their clash against Cootamundra today.
Wilmore has been at fullback in his first two games at the club but will take his spot behind the pack at Murrayfield.
Wilmore and fellow countrymen Arran McDougal and Brandon Lewsey were lured to the Border by flyhalf Richard Manion’s connections with English rugby.
McDougal, a 183-centimetre, 110-kilogram prop, came off the bench against Wagga City two weeks ago, while versatile back Lewsey is recovering from a dislocated shoulder suffered during the last game of the year in England.
All three have been impressed by the standard of southern Riverina rugby, saying the game is much quicker and the physicality equal to home.
The trio turned up to training on Thursday night in “flip-flops”, laughing off any suggestion the Border’s first brush with winter was cold.
McDougal, in particular, is enjoying a change in rugby styles.
The nuggety prop was playing for Old Albanians in the third tier of English rugby before coming to Australia.
“Back home there is more emphasis on the scrum and largely all you have to do is lift in the lineouts and keep the scrum tight,” he said.
“Here they want you to tackle, take the ball up.
“I think it is great — I don’t mind getting into that and particularly carrying the ball around the corner from the rucks and mauls.
“It was cold last week at Young but this, this is like summer tonight.”
Wilmore said the harder grounds suited his rugby.
“I have been a No. 9 all my life but in recent years I have been playing at fullback and it’s quite good with the additional freedom back there,” he said.
“But I’m a halfback so it’s probably where I prefer to play.
“I think we all thought it would be quicker than back home, which it is, but is very physical as well, the boys really fly into each other.
“In England from about October to February the games are played in very heavy conditions.
“Out here the grounds are hard and it gives you more chance to play running rugby.”
Lewsey said he was at least four weeks away from making his debut for the Steamers.
“I popped my shoulder four weeks ago and I’m having physio twice a week but really don’t know when it will be right,” he said.
“I play anywhere in the backs.
“Last season back home I think I played every position in the backline except No. 9.”