TWENTY four hours before they face Doncaster Knights at Clifton Lane, Rotherham players face an uncertain era following the resignation of coach Andre Bester.
Bester’s departure, after clashes with Rotherham’s directors, has thrown team preparations into disarray before the biggest home match of the Championship campaign.
Before the Doncaster game, a major role will be played by centre Lee Blackett whose experience will offer stable leadership.
Indeed, hours after Bester’s departure, Blackett and other senior players met a Titans’ director to discuss the crisis. Yesterday, another meeting involving all Rotherham’s contracted players was held where directors explained how the club will move forward.
It is not clear who will be appointed as his successor or when, but officials will be meeting one candidate over the weekend. It is understood there are three experienced coaches who are being considered.
There have been inquiries from agents, but it is known that the three possible appointees have all coached in the Championship and one played a senior role when Wales won the Grand Slam in 2005.
The one name which has appeared in public, Alex Codling, has been in contact with Rotherham’s directors but as he teaches at a school in London, the former London Scottish and Barking forwards’ coach may have contractual problems being released if he were to be appointed. Peter Drewett, formerly of Exeter, is also on the short-list.
With tough Championship games coming up, the players want a fast end to the uncertainty and the appointment of a coach with the same track record as Bester’s.
The rows which ruined the relationship between him and the directors, whether they were over media access, the style of rugby played, the budget, his handling of ex-forwards’ coach Ben Wade and the facilities at Clifton Lane, seemed to have made it inevitable that he would leave or be forced out.
Bester sent this message to supporters: “At the start of the season I notified officials that this will be my final season at Rotherham.
“I am and always will be extremely ambitious and principled in my working environment. I am ready for a new challenge in my career and looking forward to hopefully working in a set-up where professionalism is at the centre of the culture.
“I would like to thank everyone that has worked on a day to day basis closely with me. The fans at Rotherham are legendary. You have carried many a team to victory. I will have fond memories of you. The support staff have been brilliant, but a special mention has go to Dr Chris Myers who has been a cornerstone of this team effort for more than 20 years.”