John Brodley says Oxfordshire could be fielding their strongest ever team against Surrey at Oxford RFC tomorrow (3).

Oxon coach Brodley is delighted with the calibre of players, including Newbury captain Gregor Hayter, who have made themselves available.

And having been promoted from the County Championship Plate last year, Oxfordshire will need this added talent if they are to compete.

Brodley said: "I'm pleased with the way people have come forward after a long season.

"This is certainly the most experienced team that we have fielded and quite possibly the strongest.

"Having Gregor Hayter in there at No 8 will add a lot of strength to the back row.

"Likewise Rowan Fuller has first team experience at Henley this season and should take over the loose-head prop role Simon Matthews has had over the years."

Oxfordshire also field Newbury and England Counties winger Kenny Bingham, while former Henley College pupil Owen Root partners captain Craig Burrows at lock.

"Owen played for the Under 20s last year, and it is great that players like him are continuing into senior rugby," said Brodley.

He added: "We hope that we are going to build on the experience of the last three or four years."

Surrey are captained by Esher skipper Duncan Cormack, who led them to the National 2 title, but Brodley is not sure who else they will select.

He said: "If the Esher captain gets a lot of his first team involved, Surrey will be very hard to beat."

All eyes will be on the referee tomorrow as the championship is being used to trial new variations of the maul, 22 and breakdown rules.

Under the changes, mauls can be pulled down without penalty and players may break away and be bound in front of the ball-carrier.

Joining a maul from behind the back foot will be strictly enforced.

If the ball is passed or taken back into the 22 and kicked into touch, the line-out is in line with where the ball was kicked.

Entering the breakdown through the 'gate' will be rigidly enforced, a tackled player must play the ball immediately and must not be prevented doing so by a player off their feet.

Oxfordshire: B Hewitt (Chinnor), Bingham (Newbury), Henley (Oxford Harlequins), J Hewitt (Chinnor), Brown (Chinnor), Cathcart (Reading), A Cope (Oxford Harlequins), Fuller (Henley), Immelman (Chinnor), Whelan (Chinnor), Burrows (capt, Chinnor), Root (Clifton), De Bruin (Chinnor), Young (Oxford Harlequins), Hayter (Newbury). Reps: Chadbone (Oxford Harlequins), Eckert (Oxford Harlequins), Millburn (Chinnor), Williams (Chinnor), Carter (Chinnor), Duder (Chinnor).

  • Former Oxon and Chinnor flanker Dave Seymour, now with Saracens, has been named in England Saxons' Churchill Cup squad.