Bournemouth Director Of Rugby Will Croker has described being able to call upon battle-hardened heads as “an absolute blessing.”

With prop Joe Tarrant and halfback Mike Pope playing in the Championship with Richmond and Exeter, Croker has plenty of experience to choose from for their South West Premier push.

Full-back Karim Lynch tasted life in English rugby's third tier with National One outfit Ampthill while number eight Hamish Renwick and wing Adam Higgins plied their trade with National Two South sides Clifton and Redruth.

Croker said: “For any coach to have such ability come back to their hometown club is a real joy.

“It is an absolute blessing to have them come back - the experience they have gained with Joe Tarrant and Mike Pope playing in The Championship with Richmond and Exeter Chiefs respectively.

“Karim Lynch played in National One with Ampthill and Hamish Renwick and Adam Higgins both played in National Two South with Clifton and Redruth, which has added a real solidity to the squad.”

The Lions will look to build upon their 50-0 thumping of Old Pats last Saturday in Cheltenham in their curtain raiser when they welcome Barnstaple to Chapel Gate in their first home game of the South West Premier campaign on Saturday.

Having travelled to Gloucestershire last weekend for the first game of the new season last weekend, Croker is looking forward to enjoying home comforts.

He added: “I am really looking forward to our first home game of the season this week against Barnstaple.

“We have been away from home for our last couple of matches, so we are obviously looking forward to getting home and playing on our own paddock, and having a run out in front of what is hopefully going to be a big crowd.

“We have had some unfortunate injuries in the build up to this game but we are still able to field a side which is packed full of talent.

“I am looking forward to welcoming back Hamish Renwick at number eight.

“Barnstaple are going to be a really tough test, we know that they were unlucky to go down from National Two South last season, and we are fully expecting them to come and present us with plenty of problems all over the pitch, so we are going to have to be at our best.

“We have had a really good week’s worth of training and we are looking forward to the battle which is in front of us.”

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