Rotherham Titans: Burnell appointed new head coach

Rotherham Titans must avoid any more banana skins as they look to avoid relegation according to new head coach Justin Burnell.

Tuesday, 16th February 2016, 3:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th February 2016, 4:00 pm

Burnell was today unveiled as the man tasked with keeping the Titans in the Championship, replacing Mark Jones who departed by mutual consent on Monday.

And the 48-year-old former Cardiff Blues and London Welsh coach says all that matters over the remaining six games is avoiding the drop to National One.

Key to that is avoiding defeats such as the one last weekend to Moseley, who were bottom of the Championship as the Titans arrived.

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“We have six huge games remaining and our big focus is to ensure we maintain our Championship status,” Burnell said.

“What we have to do as a management and a as a group of players is ensure there are no banana skins along the way.”

Burnell won the Grand Slam in 2006 as head coach of Wales U19 before joining Cardiff Blues as forwards coach in 2008.

He stepped up to head coach in 2011 and took the Blues to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup.

In 2013 he joined London Welsh as head coach and guided them into the Premiership after beating Bristol in the Championship final.

Burnell’s playing career was firmly rooted in his native Wales, turning out for Cardiff, Pontypridd, Bridgend and Neath.

And he says he recognises the Welsh philosophy in the Titans, something which attracted him to the job.

He said: “I’m excited to be joining a club like Rotherham.

“It reminds me very much of the Welsh ethos and of Pontypridd Rugby Club.

“I met some of the VPs and volunteers this morning and the warmth they showed was very encouraging and appreciated.

“During my time in the Championship I had the utmost respect for Lee Blackett who was another brilliant coach coming out of the Championship. He is now doing an absolutely fantastic job at Wasps.

“So I know Rotherham is a hotbed of talent and hopefully that will continue for many years to come.

“I know that Rotherham has a very passionate set of supporters and they’re going to have a massive impact on our remaining home games in the Championship.

“None more so will that be the case than our next league game here against Bedford next weekend.”

First up for Burnell is the rearranged British and Irish Cup clash with Ealing Trailfinders at Clifton Lane on Saturday.