THE disarray at Rotherham Titans caused by the resignation of coach Alex Codling this week is being put to one side as they prepare themselves for the South Yorkshire derby tomorrow against Doncaster at Castle Park.
It is a case of business as usual for the Rotherham players who know the importance of the game which is a huge one for Doncaster, bottom of the Championship and fighting to avoid relegation.
Codling, who will remain at Clifton Lane until the end of the season, has made three changes to the side which fought back so strongly against Championship leaders Newcastle Falcons last weekend. In the front row, Marshall Gadd takes over from Jamie Kilbane and the other prop to come in, Ross Davies, is selected in place of Gareth Denman.
At the back of the scrum, Alex Rieder starts at Castle Park because of a leg injury to number eight Toby Freeman.
The Rotherham back line is the same as that which played convincingly against Newcastle. “I am really focused on the team and we will be just as desperate to win as Doncaster who are fighting for their lives,” says Codling.
“We played really well in the second half against Newcastle and before that at Bristol and were unlucky in both games not to get a losing bonus point, so we must build on those performances and make sure against Doncaster that we get a win. We must match their desperation in what will be a tough game.”
In the first South Yorkshire derby of the season at Clifton Lane in November, Rotherham won by 38-20 in a performance which also took place against the background of turmoil at the Titans following the departure of Andre Bester, Codling’s predecessor as coach.
Now tomorrow, the players must also rise again to the challenge with similar instability at the club, but Codling says attitudes are right.
Doncaster,on 18 points from 17 league games,are two points behind second from bottom Jersey but the Channel Islanders have a game in hand.
“We are a confident group of players and we are feeling positive,” says Doncaster scrum half Joe Bedford who used to captain Rotherham under Bester.
“Including the Rotherham game,we have five remaining in which to scrap for our lives. We have every chance of surviving in the Championship and of beating Rotherham and after beating Leeds recently,we are feeling good but we know it will be a close game.”
Rotherham Titans: Law, Doneghan, Sheridan, Nonu, Wilson, McKinney, Mulchrone, Gadd, Stagg, Davies, Thomas, Sanderson, Makaafi, Kirwan, Rieder. Replacements: Kilbane, Hannan, Denman, Patrick, Pearce, Williams, Blackett.