DONCASTER Knights prop Andy Brown is pressing for his first Championship start of the season after returning to full fitness following a pre-season knee injury.
“I’d reported back for pre-season training in pretty good shape but I picked up the knee injury the first week back,” he told The Star.
“I was set to play in the final pre-season game at Gloucester but I suffered a setback in training and I missed the two opening league games against Plymouth and Bristol.
“I was on the bench at Newcastle and at London Scottish on Saturday.”
The 22-year-old joined the club in the second half of the 2010-11 season from Cambridge.
He played in 19 games last season and is hoping to top that figure this season.
“There is a lot of competition for places, particularly in the pack, and possibly Brett (director of rugby Brett Davey) doesn’t yet know what his strongest team is yet,” said Brown, who is in contention with Tom Davies for the loose-head role.
Like the rest of his team-mates, Brown is disappointed with the start that Knights, who have lost all four games to date, have made.
“We’ve had a tough start playing three of our first four games away and having played Newcastle, who were relegated from the Premiership last season, and Bristol, who finished top of the Championship, as well as Plymouth, who are up there at the minute,” he said.
“There are certainly areas of our game that we still need to work on, including the set pieces - though I think you can put some of the things down to the fact that we are a new team.
“Everything looks good in training but we are just not executing some things we’ve worked on during the week in games on a weekend.
“We had fancied our chances against London Scottish and we were disappointed to lose 37-26, especially after leading 14-0 early on.
“It was a perfect start but then we let them steam-roller us for the next 25 minutes and we paid the penalty.
“We then came out in the second half and gave it another go.
“But we’ve watched the match DVD this week and it didn’t look as bad as we thought it was after the game and there are quite a few positives we could take out of the game.
“One of which was the fact that we scored four tries, and picked up a bonus point, because we’d not scored a try in our previous two games.
“But there are no easy games at this level; everyone can beat anybody else, with the probable exception of Newcastle Falcons, on any given day.”
Knights are back in action at Castle Park tomorrow night at home to Cornish Pirates, who have dropped to ninth place after losing their last two games.
Traditionally one of the strongest sides in the league in recent years, Pirates had not lost at Championship level at Castle Park until last season.
“We almost beat them down there in the second game of last season after being well behind at half-time,” said Brown.
“They are a good team but I don’t think that they are as good as they were last year when they reached the Promotion Play-Off final.
“I fancy our chances but we know that we have to play well as a team - backs and forwards - for 80 minutes and that hasn’t really happened in a game yet.
“But when we do hit the button I think we’ll win comfortably and we’ll start to frighten teams.”