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Your News Stuart-Smith back for Esher

CLIVE STUART-SMITH is hoping to put his injury nightmare behind him by making his Esher comeback at Rotherham on Saturday.

The former England Saxons scrum-half has played just half a dozen games since signing for the Surrey club last year.

He suffered a cruciate injury against Birmingham last October which ruled him out for the rest of the Championship campaign.

Then the jinxed No 9 broke a bone in his right hand in the pre-season clash at Saracens in August to leave Esher seriously short on scrum-half options with Jamie Mackenzie on World Cup duty with Canada.

But Stuart-Smith returned to full contact training this week and could feature in the squad for the tough trip to Rotherham, the club where Esher chief Mike Schmid starred as player and coach.

Schmid said: “Clive hasn’t had much luck with injuries since he got here but we’ll see where he is after training this week and go from there.

“We want our senior players back but at the same time we don’t want to rush them so they have a setback which could keep them out for a longer period.”

Former Bath and Harlequins centre Tom Cheeseman could also be in line for his Esher debut after suffering a knee injury in the pre-season game at Twickenham Stoop.

That is welcome news for Schmid after discovering that centre Arran Cruickshanks could be out for two months with a broken bone in his foot.

Amazingly, Cruickshanks played the whole of the 80 minutes in last Friday’s 37-3 home defeat by London Welsh despite suffering the injury the previous week at Moseley.

Schmid explained: “He went for an X-ray but that proved inconclusive. He was desperate to play against London Welsh and did well.

“But he was in a lot of pain on the Saturday morning and then got a phone call from the hospital to say there he had a broken bone after all.”

The injury to Cruickshanks is the latest blow to Esher, who are bottom of the Championship without a point after five straight defeats.

Esher had 24 players out in the defeat by London Welsh through a combination of injuries and World Cup calls while several dual-registered Quins players were also unavailable.

Last week scrum-half Chris Cook suffered a hamstring injury in training at Bath while wing Sam Edgerley damaged a knee in England Sevens training.

Schmid admitted: “It’s an unbelievable situation. You always get injuries but I’ve never had so many players out to long-term injuries before.”

On the positive side, prop Perry Parker should be available to face Rotherham while Schmid also hopes to have the services of Quins pair Rob Buchanan and Tom Cassens, who both came off the bench in the Premiership victory over Sale on Saturday.

Schmid expects another tough game at his old club Rotherham but insist he is happy with the commitment of his injury-ravaged squad.

He added: “Rotherham are playing really well and had a terrific win over Bedford so we know it’s going to be a huge challenge.

“They have a monstrous pack to you have got to compete physically and if you don’t measure up you are going to get beaten.

“But we have got to play to our strengths. We have some elusive runners so we have got to keep the tempo high and play smart rugby.

“I cannot fault our attitude but we are making crucial mistakes at crucial times and some of our decision-making is poor. But that is mainly due to the fact we have a lot of players who are not experienced at this level.

“We have a lot of young players who have been thrust into action all at once and we need a few experienced guys back to help them out. But again, the attitude has been great and there is a collective will to be a success.”

Esher Team

15 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 14 Charlie Ingall, 13 Tom Loizides, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Rob Kirby, 9 Clive Stuart-Smith, 1 Ollie Mines, 2 Stuart Mackie, 3 Ricky Nebbett, 4 Perry Parker, 5 Ian Kench, 6 Mike MacFarlane, 7 Sam Stitcher, 8 Chris Goodman

Replacements

16 James Gethings, 17 Rob Buchanan, 18 Mike Blakeburn, 19 Peter Synott, 20 Andy Wright, 21 Richard Mill, 22 Andy Garner

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