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Stevens set for first start of season
January 26, 2007

Matt Stevens will make his first appearance for Bath Rugby this season in the Guinness Premiership match against NEC Harlequins at the Recreation Ground tomorrow.

The 24-year-old prop has not played for the club since the Powergen Cup semi-final against Llanelli Scarlets on 4th March last year, having suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery.

But he is now fully recovered, and his return will be a boost to the front row, where resources have been stretched this season. Steve Meehan, who has cautioned against expecting too much from the prop in his first game after such a long lay-off, is looking forward to seeing Stevens in action for the first time since he joined the coaching set-up.

"We knew last week that he wasn't far away - whether it was going to be this week or whether we had to wait for the London Irish week we weren't sure," Meehan said. "We had him taking part in the team warm-up last week to get him back in the swing of things and to help him prepare because the schedule and the warm-up have changed since last year, so we thought that it was important that he was aware of these things."

Aaron Jarvis makes way for Stevens in the starting XV, and with a wealth of options in the back row, Meehan will field a completely different trio from that which took on Montpellier in the European Challenge Cup last Saturday: Andy Beattie, James Scaysbrook and Zak Feaunati replace Peter Short, Michael Lipman and Gareth Delve respectively.

In the backs, Joe Maddock returns on the right wing after a week's rest, so Michael Stephenson switches to the left in place of David Bory.

The squad in full:
15. Nick Abendanon
14. Joe Maddock
13. Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu
12. Olly Barkley
11. Michael Stephenson
10. Chris Malone
9. Nick Walshe
1. David Barnes
2. Lee Mears
3. Matt Stevens
4. Steve Borthwick (captain)
5. Danny Grewcock
6. Andy Beattie
7. James Scaysbrook
8. Isaac Feaunati

Replacements: 16. Pieter Dixon 17. Aaron Jarvis 18. Peter Short 19. Gareth Delve 20. Michael Lipman 21. Andy Williams 22. Shaun Berne

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