Doncaster Knights v Rotherham Titans: Hayes set for Rotherham reunion
Unlike last season, centre Lloyd Hayes is hoping to finish this weekend's South Yorkshire Championship derby between Doncaster Knights and Rotherham Titans at Castle Park on the winning side.
A summer signing from the Clifton Lane club, Hayes is aiming to minimise the loss of the strong-running Will Hurrell, snapped up by Premiership newcomers Bristol.
“I’d played against Doncaster a few times in the past and liked what I saw,” he said.
“They’ve got a great set-up here at Castle Park so when I got an offer from Clive (Griffiths) I was happy to come.
“They had a great season last year but it didn’t surprise me how well they did.
“They’d kept the majority of the side which had finished the previous season well and built on it with some good additions.”
Like the other newcomers in the side, Hayes was disappointed to taste defeat in his first competitive game for the club in Saturday’s Championship opener at London Irish.
“It was always going to be tough playing the side coming down from the Premiership in our opening game but (having lost) we’ve got to make sure we get off to a winning start at home on Saturday and try and continue that throughout the season,” he said.
“This is my fourth season in the Championship and the league seems to be getting stronger every year with more talented players coming through so we know it's going to be a tough season.”
Hayes knows from personal experience that previous form counts for nothing when things start to go wrong.
“Rotherham lost a few key players and they also picked up quite a few injuries; little things didn’t click,” he said reflecting on the club's disappointing 2015-16 campaign.
“I keep in touch with some of the boys still there and good luck to them this season, though I won’t have any split loyalties on Saturday. I’m expecting it to be a close game because wherever the two sides are in the table it tends to be a tight game whenever they meet.”