Fly half James McKinney will be handed the chance to relaunch his injury-hit career when Rotherham Titans begin their British and Irish cup campaign this weekend.
The Titans host Leinster on Saturday and McKinney will be named among the replacements after six months of waiting since suffering a serious leg injury.
Should he be used, the 24-year-old will make his 50th appearance for Rotherham after making his debut in September 2012.
Before he suffered a nasty leg injury against Doncaster at Clifton Lane in April, McKinney had established himself as one of the team’s major players and match winners, scoring more than 300 points – four tries, 47 conversions, 66 penalties and one drop goal.
Now fit to resume, it is a great boost for coach Mark Jones to be able to pick once again a player of such quality, a fly half good enough to have played more than 20 times for Ulster, for Ireland A and in two junior World Cups before joining Rotherham.
“I feel fine now and have been training for six weeks and doing contact training for a fortnight. The Rotherham medical team have been fantastic and second to none. My fitness is good and I can’t tell you how nice it will be to be involved again.
“The rehab went well and now I’ve got to get used to playing again. I’ve now got to think about the ball and not my knee, but I am confident that I will get up to speed again.
“At this stage, I’m just looking forward to getting out on the pitch and making sure the knee is as good as it should be. My ambitions for the rest of the season are down the line.
“Since I’ve been absent, I’ve seen pretty much every game. So far this season, I think our performances have not been quite what we are looking for, but we are in the top half, we are fifth and are winning. Once the league resumes in a fortnight, we have to push on.
“Mark Jones has a wealth of experience, has integrated me into the squad and another top four position is not out of the question. I honestly feel that any side this season in the Championship has a chance of finishing in the top four. The league is so tight and difficult, but if we can get some momentum going, we’ll be fine.”
McKinney will be reintroduced gradually, so he can also expect more some game time in the B&I Cup match at Ealing Trailfinders a week tomorrow.