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The toughest part of Thursday night’s two-hour practice at Swilers Complex for Alex Rogers was having to watch it from the sidelines.

Rogers had anticipated starting his first Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC) League game this afternoon at home against the Prairie Wolf Pack.

That won’t happen because the six-foot-one, 190-pounder suffered a concussion in last week’s road loss to the Ontario Blues.

Rogers picked up the injury in the second half when he got hit in the head. He finished the game, but the headaches started the next day, so he knew something was wrong.

Rogers still suffers from headaches, dizziness and disorientation and won’t be cleared to play until he goes a full week without any symptoms.

He admitted missing today’s match, set to start 3 p.m. at Swilers. is a “huge disappointment.”

Rogers said it was “great” to play against Ontario and added he wasn’t that nervous while his aim was to avoid making mistakes.

A Memorial University student and  member of the Dogs RFC who lives in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, Rogers began playing rugby at 11 before continuing the game at Prince of Wales Collegiate.

He has surprised a lot of people with his quick development.

Only 19, he already has earned a reputation for his fine defence and devastating tackles which he takes a lot of pride in.

He said he came up “with a lot of good offensive players,” so that’s why he concentrated on defence.

He got into his first CRC game last season as a substitute, but earned a starting lineup slot this season, mainly, according to him, because of injuries to other roster players.

But Rock head coach Simon Blanks says Rogers has earned his shot at the big club.

“He can play any backline position and he’s the best tackler on our team,” Blanks noted.

Jason Picco will replace Rogers at the wing position.

“The fact Jason is on the field after ACL reconstruction is pretty amazing,” said Blanks. “Jason has world-class potential. At full speed, given the time and space, he’s unstoppable.”

The Rock coach said his players will be better prepared mentally for the Wolf Pack this season.

He said part of the problem in last year’s home loss to the Prairie squad was The Rock’s coaching staff.

“When you tell your players they are in year-one of a five-year developmental stage and unlikely to win, they actually believe it,” said Blanks.

“We changed our attitude after that game and played very well the rest of the way.”

Blanks said the key to beating the Wolf Pack is “shutting down their scrum half. He’s very good. He’s their general.”

He said The Rock, which lost its season opener 27-25 to the Blues in Burlington, will need a “real team effort” today because of some injuries to regulars.

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Posted on 8/17/14 3:19 AM.

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