Rugby Union: Rotherham Titans boss ring the changes against Aberavon

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Rotherham coach Lee Blackett has made changes to the Titans’ squad for tomorrow’s home clash against Aberavon as the club aims to build on their positive start to their campaign in the British and Irish Cup.

The pack shows six new faces and the back line five compared with the side which beat Yorkshire Carnegie in the first round at Scarborough a week ago.

In the forwards, Blackett gives starting opportunities to a fresh front row of Toby Williams, Johnny Matthews and Adam Macklin, Tom Holmes returns in the second row and will skipper the team and Irish number eight Will Ryan joins Max Argyle and Ali Birch at the back of the scrum.

Two summer signings from Darlington Mowden Park and Wharfedale respectively, half backs Zylon McGaffin and Tom Barrett, form a new combination at nine and 10, Michael Keating is selected on the wing and centre Jordan Davies, is picked from the kick-off.

Keen to rotate players, such as Sean Scanlon, Blackett chooses Lloyd Hayes at full back. As three on-loan players from Newcastle Falcons have gone back for a fortnight, Blackett has brought in Sale Sharks’ scrum half, James Mitchell, and second row forward Olli Parkinson from Manchester’s Sedgley Park, both of whom are on the replacements’ bench for the Aberavon match. Mitchell, capped by England U18s,has been registered by Rotherham, but it’s not known how long he will be there for.

“Like all England versus Wales games, this is going to be massive challenge for us. Aberavon are a much better side than they were a couple of seasons ago when we beat them” said Blackett.

“They had a great win against Ulster Ravens last weekend and are a clearly a team to be reckoned with.

“This game is a big opportunity for several players to show that they should be knocking on the door asking for a regular first team slot.

“Hooker Johnny Matthews has been doing well on loan at Hull and when Tom Barrett has come off the bench in Championship games he has made an impact.

“So I now want to see him from the start. Argyle and Dowsett did exceptionally well against Yorkshire Carnegie and therefore keep their places and will be excited about making their debuts at Clifton Lane.”

Rotherham Titans: Hayes, Keating, Gill, Davies, Dowsett, McGaffin, Barrett, Williams, Matthews, Macklin, Parker, Holmes, Argyle, Birch, Ryan.

Replacements: Preece, Gadd, Tampin, Parkinson, Rieder, Mitchell, Roberts.