Picture Credit: Ganesh Rao

Picture Credit: Ganesh Rao

Sunderland Spartans face Teesside Cougars in this years Tees-Wear Varsity event at Raich Carter this afternoon.

Line-backer Sam Kirby forward to the game.

The University of Sunderland man said: “It’s a good time to get more reps on the field and especially because we haven’t played them in the league this season.”

Quarterback and team President Nick Whitehead is confident of sealing a win in the big game.

“I think we have a good shot. We can’t go expecting to win, as Teesside have shown in previous years they have the ability to really take it to the final whistle at Varsity.

“Having said that we have a pretty strong squad this year, so I’m expecting to come away with a win this year.”

Sherief El-Shankari also fancies the Spartans to come away with a win.

He said: “We are confident in our ability to have a repeat performance (Spartans won the first Varsity of the year) and hopefully a comfortable win.

“Especially considering our decent performance in the league this year, and Teesside are in a lower league and didn’t seem to have a great year.”

Running-back coach Misba Islam can’t wait for the game: “We’ll crawl off the field if that means we get the win on Varsity. Our rivalry with Teesside has only got even bigger since we don’t get to play them in our regular season anymore.

“Anything can happen on Varsity. They gave us a scare the last two years but we prevailed.

“Varsity is a class day. The atmosphere is electric. It’s the first time everyone gets together and cheers everyone else on. There’s a strange added pressure to a normal game because you genuinely can feel the whole uni relying on you to get that win.”

The game begins at 2pm at the Raich Carter Centre on Commercial Road in Sunderland.