Bedford schoolboy Aaron Morris could this weekend become the youngest player to represent the club in the professional era.
The 17-year-old Biddenham School pupil has been named in the 22 for the British & Irish match against Neath at Goldington Road and would break a record if Mike Rayer brings him on.
“It would be a massive achievement for him,” Rayer said. “It’s early days for him but it would be a great way to launch his career.”
Morris has been on Rayer’s radar for a while and he trained all summer with the first-team squad.
“He covers the ground well, he's got speed, he’s elusive and he’s slotted in well. He’s a bright lad, too, and it’s great to have a local lad come through the system.”
The full-back played in the academy’s win over Saracens last week and the club’s academy director Denis Ormesher is delighted to see another one of his charges make the step up.
“Aaron deserves his chance,” Ormesher told the Bedford Blues website. “He has got real natural talent but, more importantly, he has worked hard to develop over the last 18 months.
"Aaron makes it six ex-Academy players in the squad for Saturday. Chris Lock, Tom Armes, Darryl Veenendaal, Ali Price and Josh Bassett have all come through the Blues Academy. This should be a real inspiration to other young players who aspire to play for the Blues."
Morris gets his chance as Mark Kohler is suffering from an historic ankle problem that he aggravated last week. “A lot of trauma went through it and it blew up like a balloon,” Rayer said.
Scott Spurling is also out with a hand problem, Darren Fox has not been considered because of personal issues while Ben Ransom is wanted by Saracens for their A League final with Harlequins on Monday night.
Rayer has taken the opportunity to rest Jake Sharp, handing Ian Vass the No 10 jersey. It provides a chance for the peripheral Vass to get some game time and also gives the director of rugby chance to partner Mark Atkinson and Brendan Burke in midfield.
“Vassy is a good lad,” Rayer said. “He’s very experienced and has a lot of input in our analysis and game plan. He has sat on the bench a lot but he understands where he is at in is career and understands we have a very talented backline.”
Bedford have set the British & Irish Cup alight this season, running in a staggering 30 tries in three games against Bedwas, Stirling and Neath. The Blues reached the final in 2011 and their flying start to this season’s tournament has forced Rayer to recalibrate his expectations.
“We set targets and now we’ve had to set them higher,” Rayer said. “We’ve got ten points on the road and five points at our place so we’ve done alright. It’s now a question of the lads putting down a marker for the Rotherham game on Boxing Day. There is lots of competition for places and that should make sure complacency doesn’t creep in.”
Bedford ran in nine tries last week in a 62-12 win but Rayer is mindful that Neath enjoyed a spell of pressure for a quarter of the match.
“We were under the pump for 20 minutes and held out for a while,” Rayer said. “After that we were really clinical. We upped our game as we had to. We’ve got to make sure we continue to execute the simple things well. The forecast is set fair so it could be an entertaining one.”