Rotherham Titans: Duo gear up for derby

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Two former Leeds players, now major figures at Clifton Lane, are included in the Rotherham line-up for this Sunday’s Yorkshire derby against Leeds Carnegie at Headingley, kick-off 3.00 pm.

Centre Lee Blackett and prop forward Gareth Denman return to West Yorkshire with one aim in mind: to gain revenge.

Leeds won the first Championship clash in November by 24-13 at Rotherham, and since then have put themselves in with a strong chance of reaching the top four promotion play-offs.

While Rotherham are eighth in the league with 37 points from seven wins in 18 games, Leeds are now fifth on 50 points following nine victories in 18 matches.

Titans coach Alex Codling has picked flanker Latu Makaafi, who has recovered from a knee injury, and he said: “We have had a positive build-up to the Leeds game.Our sessions at Loughborough University on Tuesday were outstanding.

“The facilities were exceptional and after we had trained indoors, we played against the university side who are doing well in National One. It is important we build a relationship with Loughborough University. Two or three of their players, all top athletes, should be of interest to the Titans.

“I am afraid winger Curtis Wilson will not be available on Sunday because part of the deal with Leeds when he joined us was that Curtis would not play against them.

“We have three Championship games left so it is important to remain mentally strong so the season does not fade away.

“Leeds have plenty to play for so we expect a real challenge, but after the positive result at Doncaster, we are in good shape.”

The importance of Sunday’s game has been stressed by Blackett, seven years at Leeds before re-signing for Rotherham last summer.

“There is a lot riding on it. We have the Yorkshire Regiment Trophy to win, and it is a massive game for Leeds. I liked my time there, but my sole focus now is to help Rotherham.”

Meanwhile,Rotherham’s efforts to find a successor to Codling continue. Interviews have taken place, more are planned and the feeling is that the process should not be rushed so that the right man is signed.