Rotherham Titans players rally around under-pressure coach

Barney Maddison.
Barney Maddison.
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Rotherham’s most experienced player, forward Barney Maddison, has issued a rallying call to his team-mates as the Titans try to recover their form after losing six consecutive games in the Championship and in the British and Irish Cup.

Maddison, 26, has played more than 70 games for Rotherham in his five seasons at Clifton Lane - the most appearances by any member of the current squad and has become one of the most respected forwards in the Championship.

“We will definitely stay up and I am more than confident about that” he said. “What we have to do is to stay tight as a group because that’s the way to get through a bad patch. Our bad run is down to individual errors and the fact that our set-piece, the scrums and line outs, have not functioned well. So we know where and why we are getting beaten. We must stay positive and I have confidence in the boys. The point about the Championship is this: every team can beat each other; it’s all to play for in my eyes when it comes to the play-offs. In a league season, you’ll always have a bad run and things can change quickly when we find our form.”

Recently, Maddison has moved from second row in the pack to flanker in a move to strengthen the Rotherham forwards: “I am fit enough to play at six and happy to play in both positions. I used to play in the back row for Tynedale and at Rotherham my size helps us when I play as a flanker against the bigger teams. It also gives us another option in the line out.”

The Titans’ poor form has not only put the players under pressure but also the coach Mark Jones, who is keen to make a strong impression in his first season coaching in the Championship. Maddison is quick to defend Jones, capped 47 times by Wales, who also coached the Welsh backs once he retired as a player. “Mark has thrown himself into the job, I believe he is a great coach and as a player he’s done it at the highest level. Mark has so much knowledge that I want to get as much out of him as I can. Everyone respects him.”

With no game this weekend, Maddison and the rest of the squad have to wait a week before they have the opportunity to show the improvement that is urgently needed; in the next two games against Ealing Trailfinders(home) and then against Leinster A(away) in the B and I Cup, Rotherham must demonstrate the form they are capable of and put behind them the miserable sequence of results.