An injury crisis has forced Rotherham Titans, who have already qualified for the promotion play-offs, to pick an inexperienced forward at Championship level for the Yorkshire derby against Leeds Carnegie at Abbeydale tomorrow; (live on Sky; KO 5.15pm.)
Hooker Johnny Matthews, who is currently playing for Manchester club, Sedgely Park in National Two North, but has signed for Rotherham next season, makes his Titans’ debut earlier than expected because of injuries to Tom Cruse and Ben Sowrey. Titans obtained permission from the RFU to play Matthews who has been training with his new team-mates this week.
“Matthews is a talented player and he will do a good job on Saturday. He comes highly recommended and in the long term he will benefit from being able to train as a full time professional.” Apart from the inclusion of Matthews, the other outstanding change to the team which achieved a remarkable win away at Cornish Pirates on Sunday, is the return of Australian fly half Dallan Murphy.
He resumes at number 10 while Juan Pablo Socino comes back into his normal position at centre in a Rotherham team which also sees the return of Scottish props Colin Quigley and Robin Hislop. “The boys have been relaxed in the build-up to the Leeds match because we have qualified for the play-offs, but there’ll be an extra edge to the game because it is a derby” said Blackett.
“Leeds are a very good defending side and we’ll need to work hard to break them down.
“We must not miss our scoring opportunities which we did in the first Championship game in November.
“We are relishing this match and after Leeds game we must make sure we hit the ground running as we go into the play-offs,” Blackett added.
Titans: Scanlon, Broadley, Roberts, Socino, Keating, Murphy, White, Hislop, Matthews, Quigley, Holmes, Thomas-Brown, Birch, Preece, Rieder.
Replacements: Williamson, Williams, Tampin, Thomas, To’oala, Mulchrone, Davies.