England Counties ready for Spanish summons

England Counties will complete a two-match tour of Spain from 29 May to 4 June, and team manager Matt Long is expecting a tough test.

Counties are set to face a Basque Country team in San Sebastian on Wednesday, 31 May before travelling to Guadalajara three days later to take on Spain, and Long is wary of the challenge ahead.

“I’m expecting a very physical game,” he said of the international clash. “Given we wanted a full Test against the international side, I think we’ll get one.

“We’ve done a bit of research, and we know Spain are improving, their world ranking is proof of that. We’re going to have a hard test.”

Counties are unbeaten so far in 2017 having recorded wins over Scotland Club XV and Ireland Club XV, running out 45-28 and 34-26 winners respectively, and Long attributes those triumphs to getting the right mix of players together.

“From Nothumberland to Cornwall, we like to make sure we get a fair representation of players across the board,” he said.

And with the Bill Beaumont County Championship getting underway this weekend, Long admits he and his team will try to pick those involved.

“We are reviewing every single aspect of eligible players as part of the county championships over the next four weeks to get a good mix of players from throughout the whole country,” he added.

“We will have a band of selectors and coaches at the matches, and I’ll be liaising with people watching different games so that we strike the correct balance.”

Counties will fly to Spain the day after the county championship final at Twickenham Stadium, and Long explains there will be no meet and greet beforehand, rather his side will have to gel and search for consistency from the outset.

He added: “We expect that both the Basque Country team and Spain will want to play a quick game, and we must adapt to that accordingly.”