Rotherham Titans’ ace targets Yorkshire Carnegie

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WITH the bragging rights already back in Rotherham, Tom Cruse is desperate to shake off an injury and help the Titans triumph in another Yorkshire derby this month.

British & Irish Cup fever is in full swing at Clifton Lane, after four wins from as many games has already put the Greene King IPA Championship side on the breach of the knockout stages.

And after a trip to Aberavon this weekend, Rotherham will host Yorkshire Carnegie – a side they beat 6-0 away earlier this month – seeking to secure a home quarter-final.

“It was a game we targeted because we got beaten by them twice last year and we wanted to beat a top-four side,” said Cruse. “We went out there and we wanted to be physical and I think we were.

“We have got them at our place for the first time this season and we want a home quarter-final as well so it is going to be another huge game.

“It means a lot to the players because we have got loads of ex-Leeds players and our head coach Lee Blackett played lots of his rugby for Leeds.

“We feel like we are just starting to click. It’s a competition that we are targeting and looking to go quite far in.”

It has been a busy season so far for Cruse, who has seen his fair share of both the try line and the treatment table.

Try doubles in away wins at both Bedford Blues and Ulster Ravens have caught even the 25-year-old by surprise, while an ankle injury sustained at Bristol last month came quickly off the back of a niggling shoulder problem.

He is expecting to miss out on this weekend’s trip to Wales but the former Sale Sharks youngster is determined not to miss Carnegie’s visit.

And once safe passage is secure in the cup, attentions will turn back to the Greene King IPA Championship where – after five wins from their opening eight – bettering last season’s play-off semi-final defeat is certainly on the agenda.

“I think I have scored five tries this season already but that’s just a bonus at the end of the day,” added Cruse. “It means a lot scoring tries for this club but winning is more important.

“I have played a lot of rugby already this season and it is just taking its toll a little bit. In some ways the ankle is a bit of a blessing in disguise as it has given me a chance to rest up the shoulder.

“We tried to draw a line under last season and not compare it. The league has got stronger and stronger so we are going to have to improve as a squad and we have done that.

“The pack has improved massively and the target is to be right up there but we are taking it week by week.”

*Formed in 2009, the Greene King IPA Championship is the second tier of professional rugby union in England. To keep up-to-date with all the latest news follow @ChampRugby on Twitter, or visit www.rfu.com/championship