Roberts blow for Blackett ahead of cup champs test

Rotherham Titans head coach Lee Blackett.
Rotherham Titans head coach Lee Blackett.
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Rotherham Titans have suffered a serious blow as they prepare for one of their biggest home games of the season-tomorrow’s quarter final clash in the British and Irish Cup against Leinster,champions for the last two years.

Centre Jack Roberts, who moved to Leicester Tigers from Clifton Lane in November and returned to the Titans for the recent Championship games against Nottingham and Bedford, has been recalled by the Premiership club.

Rotherham had thought Roberts would be available for the Leinster match, but the Welsh centre is required for next weekend’s fixture between Leicester Tigers and Northampton in the LV=Cup and his new employers do not want to risk any injury.

The other major change in the Rotherham side from last Saturday’s league win against Bedford sees the return of winger Jamie Broadley who is now recovered from shoulder injury.

Broadley has not played for the Titans in eight weeks and last appeared at the end of November when Rotherham thrashed Ulster Ravens 52-17 in the B and I Cup at Clifton Lane.

Broadley’ comeback, and the unavailability of Roberts, mean that coach Lee Blackett has made some positional changes to take on Leinster who should start as favourites because of their outstanding success in the competition.

Sean Scanlon resumes his normal place at full back and Lloyd Hayes rejoins Jordan Davies in the centre.

“We have been concentrating all week on ourselves and not on Leinster,” said Blackett.

“We have not been able to see much video of them playing because little is available.But I know they are a ruthless side, they topped Pool 5 and only lost once.

“They finish scoring chances clinically and if you give them a chance Leinster will take it. We will have to be at our best defensively tomorrow.”

Leinster A, winners of the B and I Cup in 2013 and 2014, will be without question the toughest side Rotherham will have played in the competition so far.

However, with five victories in six games in Pool 2, the Titans can also be confident about their chances of reaching the semi-finals and causing a big upset.

Blackett knows the scale of the challenge his team face, but following a return to home form after putting five tries against Bedford, Rotherham are in good shape physically and mentally.

Off the field issues, namely Rotherham’s uncertain future at Clifton Lane, have not disrupted in any way preparations for the Leinster clash as Blackett’s squad aim to achieve what would be a massive shock win against opponents who will put out a side containing some of the most promising players in Ireland, several of whom should go on to play Test rugby.

Rotherham Titans from: Scanlon, Keating, Davies, Hayes, Broadley, Barrett, White, Hislop, Cruse, Tampin, Maddison, Holmes, Argyle, Preece, Rieder, Birch, Williams, Gadd, Thiede, Parker, Morris, McKinney, Mitchell, Dowsett.