The return of second row forward Barney Maddison for the last 10 minutes of the recent game in Belfast against Ulster Ravens in the British and Irish Cup was one of the most significant events at Rotherham Titans so far this season.
After several months out of action recovering from a serious knee injury that happened in March, 25 year old Maddison, now in his fourth season at Clifton Lane, is not only back in training, he’s able to play as well.
Relief for him and for Rotherham who value Maddison’s character, his contributions and power in the pack,
Since he joined the club from Tynedale in Northumberland in the 2011-12 season, he has played more than 40 games, but appearances have been restricted by two long term knee injuries which have meant that for 18 months out of the last 24, he has been out of action.
Now, though, Maddison can look forward to resuming his professional career and with the encouragement of coach Lee Blackett, he will start playing again this weekend for his old club, Tynedale, for the next two or three weeks.
“I need game-time, I just want to go out and play and while I feel good, I am not match fit” said Maddison.
“That will come. I can’t tell you how relieved I am. I have been playing rugby since I was five and have never been injured except in the last two seasons. It has been a very tough eight or nine months since I injured a leg again. I had my first serious injury in the 2012-13 season and then I did my other leg in March this year.
“It has been frustrating and I’ve hated not being involved with the boys. Thankfully, I am no longer the water-boy and I can mix in again and take part in the banter with the rest of the squad. I know I won’t go straight back in the side, but because I am fit there is now competition for places.
“Once I’ve played a few games for Tynedale, my aim will be to play in the forthcoming matches in the B and I Cup against Aberavon and Yorkshire Carnegie in December.
“It has been a log slog, but now I able to play again. I will continue to train at Rotherham and then go up to Tynedale to turn out on Saturdays.”
The one-time Leeds Met player added: “When I came on with a few minutes left in Belfast, it felt great to have the shirt on again and so good to get on to the field and to come off without being injured.
“Lee will be able to see how I’m doing by looking at the videos of the Tynedale games and if I am performing, I will be in with a chance of playing in the first team again. “The boys have started this season well, the team spirit at Rotherham is excellent.
“There are no cliques, it’s a good place to work and it’s like hanging around with your mates.”
Now that Maddison is fit again and Ben Thomas, another second row forward who has been out with a serious shoulder injury, expects to be back in two weeks, Clifton Lane no longer resembles a casualty clearing station, but an optimistic Championship club that is now in a far better shape and able to build on its promising start to the season.
In the League Table, Rotherham currently sit in fifth spot, equal on points with Doncaster Knights. They both have 14 points after five games (three wins, two defeats.) Their Castle Park clash will be televised live on Sky on the revised date of Sunday January 4th,(1pm.)