Rotherham Titans today begin their preparations for the 2016-17 Championship campaign when the squad of more than 30 players report back to Clifton Lane for training.
Coach Justin Burnell has signed 21 new players who join the nine who’ve been retained: forwards Charlie Maddison, Tom Calladine, Toby Salmon and Toby Williams, and backs Jack Hayes, Joe Barker, Will Goodwin, Will Robinson and Will Owen. Burnell was particularly keen to strengthen the pack, hence the recruitment of locks Miles Normandale(Cardiff Blues) and Tom Hicks(Gloucester), props Joe Rees(Worcester), Tom Williams(Bedford) and Chad Thorne from Coventry.
Other new forwards include hooker Joe Graham from Yorkshire Carnegie, Buster Lawrence (Moseley), lock Ollie Currie (London Irish), and hooker Luke Cole, previously at Gloucester.
Another interesting new face is Oxford University Blue,prop Ian Williams, who is also a grade eight clarinet player. The scrum half position will be contested by George Tressider (Leicester Tigers) and Matt Dudman (Yorkshire Carnegie).
Burnell’s recruits-experienced in the Premiership, European competitions and the Pro 12- have also played extensively in the Championship, such as another former Moseley player-Charlie Foley who can play fly half or at full back.
“I think Justin has done well to attract some really good players to Rotherham,” says centre Owen, now in his second season at the Titans.
“I am sure we have the ability in this squad to challenge for a place in the top four. Justin has gone for size and strength in the pack which will be heavier than last season.
“I’m good mates with Lawrence whom I played with at Moseley. Buster’s a great signing. He’s fast and strong with good hands.
“The squad has an exciting feel about it.What we need to do is to gel quickly so that we don’t go into the season feeling like a strange bunch of players.
“The existing players must make sure everyone is made to feel welcome.”
Burnell has arranged three pre-season games in August against Premiership sides Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints and Hull Ionians of National One.
Meanwhile, Rotherham’s new chief executive Richard Lamb will announce tomorrow how the Titans will move forward commercially.