Rotherham Titans forward Tom Calladine is relishing his return to ‘local club’ Nottingham this weekend.
Calladine made more than 80 appearances for the East Midlands outfit before joining the Titans this season.
He earned a reputation as one of the Championship’s best flankers with Notingham coach Martin Haag very keen to keep him but he was keen for a new challenge.
The 26-year-old nevertheless admits it will be an emotional occasion as he returns with Rotherham, who are chasing a sixth win in nine games.
“I loved it at Nottingham and it’s a decent club,” he said.
“It was a dream for me as someone who’s from Mansfield to play professionally for my local club, but I needed a new challenge.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to make but Rotherham, whom I’ve played against about ten times, play a good brand of rugby and I was coming to a club that had finished in the top four twice.
“I can’t wait for Sunday’s match. It will be a good battle.
“The fans will have something to say about me and it will great to see some old friends, but this is a new Nottingham side and there’ll be only four or five players that I played with.
“I think the game will go down to the wire.
“Both teams have had good results recently. We beat London Welsh and Nottingham have beaten London Scottish and Jersey.
“Mark Jones, our coach, has spoken to me a bit about Nottingham, and I’ve pointed out the strengths of number eight Paul Grant and scrum half Daryl Veenendaal.
“I’m enjoying the challenge at Rotherham having to adapt to a new coach, a new style and a new set of lads.
“You can’t moan when we’ve won five out of eight games, but I don’t think we’ve put in a full 80 minutes yet.
“We’ve been a bit complacent at times, but in patches we’ve shown we can be a top side.”
Considering Calladine’s family background, he had little option but to play rugby.
“My father, Keith, played and coached Mansfield, two uncles also played there and my mum, Dawn, worked behind the bar in the club. I started at Mansfield as a kid and stayed until I was 18.
“My parents always came to support me at Nottingham and now they come to Rotherham, and when I told them I was coming here, they were more than happy because they had always liked the atmosphere at Clifton Lane.”
Calladine is conscious that he has yet to score a try for Rotherham – setting up the tantalising prospect of grabbing one against his former club.