Cushion is ready to go again after illness
PLYMOUTH Albion are able to welcome back scrum-half Ruairi Cushion and lock Brett Beukeboom after illness for Sunday's trip to Headingley to take on Leeds.
The pair missed Albion's narrow 9-5 Boxing Day home defeat at West Country rivals Cornish Pirates.
But they come back into the side this weekend at the expense of Paul Rowley and Ien Ascroft-Leigh, who stepped in at the last minute to play against the Pirates.
The only other change Albion, still without the injured Sam Hocking and Henry Slade, make to the 15 that started in the Boxing Day game is on the wing where Paul Bailey comes in for Lewis Warner, who has suffered a knee injury in training this week.
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Cushion is certainly glad to be back after a frustrating Christmas period.
"I started coming down with something the week before the Pirates game, however, I tried to train through it but it just kicked in and I ended up having a chest infection.
"I was very annoyed to miss the biggest game of the year and missing Christmas with my family as well.
"It was all a bit of a shame and the result was disappointing for the guys."
But Cushion is looking forward to Sunday's clash with Leeds.
Although Albion narrowly lost at Headingley last season, Cushion has happy memories of the game, having scored a try and captaining the team.
"Leeds are flying high," said Cushion. "They are having a better season than they had last year.
"But we beat them at home at the start of the season and we played well up there against them last year.
"We felt we got nicked at the end in that game.
"I nabbed a try thanks to a nice little off-load from Sam Hocking and I have got good memories all round as I captained the team there last year as well."
Albion would have won that game at Headingley last year had they found touch with a late penalty.
But they missed touch and Leeds went right down to the other end and bagged the points to win 28-23.
Cushion said: "We have improved since then but they have improved massively, so we know the test we are coming up against.
But we are not daunted, we are looking forward to it.
"We've had a great week in training.
"The guys have come back (from a short break) really keen to put things right and we are just looking to pick up a few wins again and start 2013 on a good note."
Sunday's match will be the first of six Albion have to play away from home in their final 10 Championship fixtures of the season.
So far they have only won once in the league on their travels – a 24-22 victory at Moseley.
But Cushion is confident Albion can pick up some more away wins in 2013.
"We are trying not to look into home and away and that type of stuff anymore," he said.
"We just want to go out and play our game of rugby no matter where we are.
"A pitch is a pitch no matter where it is and it is just 15 versus 15.
"We just want to go up there this weekend and worry about ourselves."
Leeds have not played at Headingley since October 5 as the stadium needed a new playing surface.
So far the only match to have been played on the new surface was Leeds Rhino's Boxing Day rugby league match against Wakefield.
Cushion is looking forward to playing on a new pitch, especially after some of the muddy surfaces Albion have played on recently.
"We want to play and we have shown that all year," said Cushion.
"We are a good team this year and we just have to get back to showing that.
"The weather of the winter has kind of dragged us into a bit of a fight, but, hopefully, this new Leeds pitch is going to provide us the ammunition to get back to playing a good brand of rugby again.