British Lion Chris Cusiter returns to Border Reivers colours for their
opening Celtic League match of the season against Munster in Limerick on
Reivers' head coach Steve Bates believes that trip to the Land of the
Long White Cloud will prove a boon for Cusiter and his Borders
"One of the important things for Chris was to be around other nines and
tens of the quality found in the Lions party. I think he has picked up
subtle things from people like Matt Dawson and through working alongside
Jonny (Wilkinson) and Stephen Jones.
"The biggest impact could well be on Chris's mental and cognitive skills
rather than any physical dimension. I think we may see more variety in
his play," the coach declared.
Another internationalist, Samoan captain Semo Sititi is not due back
from the South Pacific until this weekend so he misses the trip to
Limerick as do the injured quartet, Calum MacRae, Nikki Walker, Stephen
Cranston and Scott Macleod.
MacRae and Walker have hamstring strains while Cranston and Macleod have
had minor surgery on ankle injuries.
Bates is pleased by the impression created by his new signings both in
training and the pre-season friendlies, making particular mention of the
29-year-old Samoan Test lock Opeta Palepoi, who joined from Rotherham
Still, he cautions that Reivers, who finished in last place in the
Celtic League last season, face an uphill task if they are to be a truly
competitive side in the League this campaign.
"We are under no illusions that it's going to be a tough season for us,"
he said. "Last season the general public were encouraged by the effort
and commitment from the side and appreciated that for what it was.
"It's down to us. We have to perform at a level that says we are very
competitive and on our best days we are going to be in with a chance of
"If we can produce one or two more wins at home than we did last season
- which I think we are very capable of doing - then I think our
supporters will see that as a very positive move in the right