Doncaster Knights: Skipper Michael Hills ruled out of Nottingham cup clash

Michael Hills
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Doncaster Knights captain Michael Hills will miss Friday night’s Championship Cup game against Nottingham at Lady Bay.

“Michael went over on his ankle late in last weekend’s game against Coventry and although he stayed on, he has been ruled out of the Nottingham game,” said director of rugby Clive Griffiths.

Second-rower Tom Hicks will again be missing against the Green and Whites after suffering a reaction earlier this week when resuming training following after being sidelined with a concussion.

“With Nick Civetta away on international duty it has left us with just Matt Challinor and Morgan Eames, who I thought was outstanding on Saturday, and we’ll either have to try to get someone in, which we’ve been trying to do but it is not easy at this time of the season, or to improvise,” said the Welshman.

With prop Richard List having had a ‘clear out’ knee operation on Tuesday, and No 8 Josh Tyrell on duty with Samoa, the club’s options to make changes in the forwards tomorrow are limited.

But it is a different situation in the three-quarters and Knights are expected to make several changes with the likes of Dougie Flockhart and Steve McCall both coming into the frame.

Although full-back Paul Jarvis and centre Will Owen – the latter after a ten-month lay-off – both made successful returns after injury last weekend, Griffiths hinted that it was unlikely that both would start tomorrow.

“We don’t want to rush them back too quickly and the plan is to bring them back gradually during the Cup campaign,” he said.

Whereas Knights got their Championship Cup campaign off to a winning start on Saturday, Nottingham were well beaten the following day by Yorkshire Carnegie at Emerald Headingley.

But neither Griffiths or his fellow coaching staff are reading too much into that result.

“We went across to Headingley to watch the game (Knights play Carnegie next weekend) and Notts only had about four regulars in their starting line-up,” he said. “They’ll be a long stronger tomorrow night.”

Nottingham have proved something of a surprise-packet in 2018-19 Championship campaign and boast an impressive home record which includes a narrow early-season win over Knights and a recent resounding victory over second-placed Ealing.

“They are a good home side but we felt we were unlucky not to beat them down there in the league,” said Griffiths. “Although there are still aspects of our game we need to improve upon – and I spoke to the players about that earlier this week - the boys have a spring in their step after successive wins and we want to try and maintain that momentum ahead of our return to league rugby at the end of next month.”