Doncaster Knights captain Michael Hills will be restricted to cheering from the sideline when the club kicks-off its 2016-17 Championship campaign at London Irish on Saturday.
Hills suffered a bad hamstring injury in the club’s opening pre-season game at Newcastle and is expected to be out until mid-October at the earliest.
Although disappointed to miss the start of the campaign, Hills is confident that his team-mates can build on last season’s success which saw them finish runners-up in the league and reach the play-off final.
But, like everyone else connected to the club, the Doncaster-born flanker is under no illusions about how tough the new season will be.
“Some people might say that we took teams by surprise and that maybe teams at the beginning of the season didn’t do as much analysis on us as they possibly could have done,” he reflected.
“Whether or not that was the case I certainly think teams will know what we are about this season.
“We know we’ve got to be consistent and be physical and match the sort of form which we had over last season.
“We certainly need to be playing well in every game and picking up points away from home - even if we don’t get the result we want - and being solid at home which is what we did last season.
“Any side hoping to do well in the Championship has to be able to adapt to the different conditions they will face during the season and play different rugby and we did that last season.
“You not only need a Plan A but B, C and even Plan D if you need it.
“Fortunately, we’ve got the players and coaching staff here at Doncaster to be able to adapt.
“The new rules at the maul will make things more interesting and that’s something that Kendo [Glen Kenworthy - forwards coach] has worked very hard with us on during our pre-season preparations,” he added.
“You have to make sure you’ve got a good pack and you need to have a good driving game in the Championship no matter what the rules are and that’s something we work very hard on.
“There could possibly be more open play from the scrums and lineouts because the drive might be weakened slightly by the new rules.
“But I think we proved towards the back end of last season that we don’t need to score all our points from a drive.”