On the eve of Rotherham’s first match in the promotion play-offs at Clifton Lane against Bedford, there is growing belief that centre Jonny Hepworth will quit at the end of the season and return to rugby league.
Hepworth, one of Titans’ major signings last summer, joined from Leeds Carnegie where he made several Premiership appearances but after one campaign only with Titans he has accepted an offer from Featherstone Rovers. The future is less clear for the two other former Leeds’ players who came to Rotherham at the same time: scrum half Joe Bedford and utility back Richard Welding.
It remains to be seen whether they will be Titans players next season; in Bedford’s case, as with others this season, coach Andre Bester has offered new contracts, but so far the names of those staying haven’t been released. Championship coaches are currently planning for next season, recruiting players, dealing with agents and getting rid of those who don’t fit in. So far, it is understood that several of the first team squad have agreed to stay: forwards Dan Baines, Rob O’Donnell, Ben Harris and Sean Dougall, and scrum half Matt Rhodes. It’s expected that during the next few weeks, Bester will announce whether other forwards, such as Ryan Burrows and Sam Dickinson, will stay. Bester can pick from a fully fit first team squad which means that the pack tomorrow is strengthened by the return of Rob O’Donnell; bearing in mind the apparent uncertainty over Bedford’s future, it will be interesting to see if he regains his place as skipper and scrum half, or whether Rhodes continues in both roles.