Rotherham Titans will play the remaining three games in the Championship promotion play-offs without one of their most experienced forwards, prop Colin Quigley, who has agreed to join rivals Doncaster Knights.
Quigley, 29, has not played in the first two play-offs against Bedford and Doncaster, last Saturday. It was unlikely that the Scottish forward would have been retained by Rotherham’s caoch Andre Bester whose priority is next season, now that the Titans are assured of Championship rugby.
There are also reports that centre Jonny Hepworth has left Rotherham and is training with rugby league side Featherstone Rovers for whom he has signed. Speculation about the future of another Titan, forward Adam Kettle, grows amid reports that he has been told by Bester that he will not be needed for next season.
As Titans prepare for their third game in the play-offs on Sunday against Cornish Pirates in Penzance, Bester is simultaneously increasing his efforts to strengthen the first team squad for next season.
Recently, because Bester still lives near Belfast, he has been watching and assessing several promising players who are training with the Ulster academy.
As seems likely, Bester will be recruiting talent from Northern Ireland to fill the vacancies at Clifton Lane.
This is a source that he has used before in previous seasons with some success. Current players from Ulster include flanker Sean Dougall, who has done well in his first year in the Championship, hooker David McGregor and the departing lock forward James Sandford.
Sunday’s game at the Mennaye Field is being broadcast on Sky and Rotherham, who have managed to earn only one point in their Pool games against Bedford and Doncaster, will be keen to show that the team have improved considerably since the first meeting in Cornwall back in October which Pirates won 40-15.
Titans (from): Hodgson, Hampsey, Hepworth, McMahon, Swatkins, Socino, Rhodes, Harris, McGregor, George, McGowan, Smidt, Baines, Dougall, Burrows, Worrall, Hunt, Loney, Kilbane, Bedford, Aikman, Kettle, Welding.