Barnstaple lose forward Gary Turner
GARY TURNER may have played his last game for Barnstaple.
The back-five forward has given in to a shoulder problem that almost forced him out of the game in the summer.
He will miss this weekend's match against Amersham and Chiltern and is due to leave for New Zealand for a long-term trip in the coming weeks.
Kevin Squire, Barnstaple's director of rugby, confirmed he does not expect to have Turner available again.
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Turner had planned to take a year out of rugby to rest the problem but, after receiving specialist advice before the season, he decided to continue.
Barnstaple's blow has been doubled ahead of Saturday's potentially tricky visit of Amersham in National Three south west with Tom Skelding ruled out through illness.
Squire had to put his new year celebrations on hold this week as he tried to strengthen his second-row resources.
He said: "It's another setback in a season full of setbacks.
"I'm desperately trying to sign a couple of players. We have to bring in two forwards as soon as possible."
Amersham are one of the division's most in-form teams. After a poor start to the season, in which they lost 52-8 at home to Barnstaple, they have won five of their last seven games.
Barnstaple beat Bideford 38-0 on Boxing Day and Squire felt the derby helped usher in a new era of respect between the rival clubs.
The match was switched from Bideford's waterlogged King George's Field to Pottington Road where it went ahead despite terrible weather and worsening pitch conditions.
Kevin Booth, the Bideford coach, said: "A big thank you to Barnstaple for putting the day on, the groundsmen did a great job. There is genuine mutual respect between Bideford and Barnstaple now."
Squire agreed, despite being angered by some comments from supporters in the bar after the match regarding the difference between the clubs' financial resources.
"I would like to thank Kevin Booth and the Bideford players for being up for it, which meant everyone had the opportunity to enjoy the day," he said.
"Both clubs should be really pleased with their contribution to a memorable day.
"There was a lot of respect shown by both teams. The animosity comes from the older generations and I would like to see that eradicated.
"Not one of our players was paid on Boxing Day.
"Our contracted players are only paid for the league programme and we finished with half a dozen teenagers on the pitch."
Bideford, second in Tribute Western Counties (west), return to their promotion bid on Saturday with a trip to Devonport Services.
Bude host Torquay Athletic in the same division, while Torrington are due to play a friendly at North Tawton.