Rotherham Titans fly-half James McKinney is enjoying his return to the club after being impressed with the improved standard of the Greene King IPA Championship.
The 23-year-old from Belfast had a successful first spell with Titans (2012/13) before rejoining home club Ulster, representing the PRO12 side 10 times last season.
But after following the exploits of Lee Blackett’s side as Rotherham finished fourth to reach the play-offs before losing to Bristol in the semi-final last season, McKinney is back at Clifton Lane.
After an opening-day defeat to London Scottish, the Titans won three consecutive games with McKinney touching down to help secure a 32-29 victory over Jersey. Last weekend, though, they were hammered 7-47 by second-place Worcester.
The fly-half, who represented Ireland in two Junior World Championships, has relished the opportunity to test himself against tougher opposition than his last stint in the competition. “The standard has gone up a bit since last time I was here and Lee deserves a lot of credit for that” he said.
“They are an enjoyable group of boys to play with so it was fairly easy for me to return.
“When I was up for a move I looked at my opportunities and chose to go to a team that had been good to me in the past.
“It’s great to see the number of boys in this league playing international rugby and a lot of recent England players have played at this level to get a bit of experience.
“It is certainly a lot more challenging week-in week-out than it was even two or three years ago and can’t afford any slip in concentration.”
so the aim is to try and back that up. Results will come and go but it’s great to face these big teams to test ourselves.”
n Formed in 2009, the Greene King IPA Championship is the second tier of professional rugby union in England. Keep up-to-date with by following @ChampRugby on Twitter, or visit www.rfu.com/championship