Rotherham Titans have received a boost as they prepare for one of the most important Championship games of the season against Nottingham, on Saturday.
Hooker Tom Cruse is now available for the starting line-up now that a RFU disciplinary committee has withdrawn the red card that resulted in Cruse being sent off for violent conduct against Moseley on Boxing Day.
At Tuesday’s RFU hearing, attended by Rotherham coach Lee Blackett, the RFU found that Cruse was not guilty and could resume playing.
“We are delighted to have a player of Tom’s quality back for this massive match against Nottingham which is now of great importance to us because they have overtaken us in the Championship and we need to win to get back into the top four” says Blackett.
Cruse missed Sunday’s derby against Doncaster because he was not allowed to play until the RFU had re-examined the case, but now that he is free to play, Rotherham’s chances of beating Nottingham have improved.
Nottingham’s growing reputation was confirmed at the weekend when they beat London Scottish, also challenging for a top four slot, by only one point.
Having watched videos of Nottingham’s recent games in the Championship in which they’ve won seven matches out of 10, Blackett has been stressing that Saturday’s opponents are a top side.
Among the players who stand out are fly half Dan Mugford, one of the best number 10s in the league, and skipper Brent Wilson, the Kiwi flanker who played for Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership.
With Championship wins against Bedford, Plymouth, Yorkshire Carnegie, Cornish Pirates, Moseley, Doncaster and London Scottish, Nottingham are heading for the promotion play-offs, and given their improvement there will be no repeat of the one sided game at Meadow Lane last March when Rotherham destroyed them by 51-7.
Rotherham must not reproduce the poor display that ended with a defeat by Moseley at home over Christmas.