Newcastle Jets v Gloucester Knights: Top teams prepare for curtain raiser

Wilkins, Van Ginkel available at Jets; but Dolphins have surprise inactive

Chris Rausch

I used to pretend I was facing Andy O’Brien and Cillian Fleming on the eve of playing a game against the Wales national team but now I’m just facing Chris Rausch.

Rausch is the highlight of the Jets signing this year but van Ginkel is a key player for England.

You can never count the latter out although he missed the 2015 Six Nations with injuries.

Rausch was a fan favourite with the Italian national side and was integral to their 2012 Six Nations championship.

He has the chance to put in a marker in a Premiership Cup tie against Gloucester while he has already beaten the Wales national sevens captain Joe El Sella.

We’ll have to watch what he can do against the creative Welsh side.

Duncan Weir

Durham have been looking for a ball-playing fly-half since fly-half Sam Howard suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opening round of the season and managed to fill that void.

A talented 16-year-old, James Dudley-Jones, is regarded as Weir’s main successor at the club.

It is not a surprise to see him turn out for the Jets in a curtain raiser against Gloucester.

However, there’s a doubt on whether Weir will be promoted to the Newcastle line-up this week.

With regular fly-half Andre Brown sidelined with a knee injury, Weir could get the call up.

It was also no surprise to see the Jets signing of former England prop Jason Spence.

It is testament to Spence’s consistent form and fitness that he is available for selection this week.

Steve Clifford

Swansea have not made many inroads this season and that’s a credit to their competition at a given time.

But it will come as a disappointment to head coach Alan Curtis that prop Riley Thomas has announced his retirement.

The Welsh front rower last played for the Swans on the opening day of the season.

Thomas is thought to have made his decision based on family considerations.

His chance to move to Australia to play rugby league has been thwarted.

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