Aberdeen Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor has challenged the squad to step up and help replace last season’s top try-scorer Chris Jollands.
The back-row has left Grammar to go travelling for a year to Fiji and New Zealand, playing his last game for the Rubislaw outfit in October.
He finished last season with 16 tries as Grammar made their return to the Premiership. The try-scoring mantle has so far been taken over by Nathan Brown, the winger who joined in the summer and has crossed the line nine times so far this season.
O’Connor, who will have Tom Aplin, Sean Mills and Murray Mitchell back for this weekend’s home game against Hawick, hopes to see others step up in Jollands’ absence but has not ruled out a return for the popular forward.
He said: “His last game was meant to be the Currie game that was rearranged, so now it’s just a case of looking for replacements. Hopefully there’s stacks of guys that are wanting to fill that spot.
“We’re disappointed to lose him as he’s been a cracking player. He’s been prolific from the back-row and was our highest try-scorer last year. But that means we’ll have a new top scorer this year.
“He’s out there for a year, so we’re looking to get him back in next season.”
O’Connor has refused to let his Grammar squad dwell too much on the 57-3 defeat to Currie Chieftains last weekend, given the seven personnel changes.
As well as missing Aplin, Mills and Mitchell, Robin Cessford came off with a shoulder injury and is a slight doubt for tomorrow, while Nat Coe is suffering from an illness. Greig Ryan will miss the next few games as he is due to get married.
O’Connor added: “I have to say congratulations to Greig because he’s been a big player for us over the years and we can have no complaints about him having a few weeks away.
“Saturday was a bit of a disappointment but injuries and experience took its toll.
“We’ve got a far more competitive squad for Hawick this week.
“In years gone by it maybe wouldn’t be the case that we would bounce back straight away from defeats. But in recent years, we’ve been able to do it relatively quickly. Because there were so many changes last week, we weren’t going to reflect too much on the result.”