TOMORROW’S Leeds-Doncaster Knights Championship clash at Headingley will evoke mixed memories for James Tincknell.
The 6ft 4ins 17-stone centre spent two years at Headingley before being released at the end of last season.
In his first season at the West Yorkshire club, the Cumbrian-born Tincknell played Premiership rugby but a bad car crash in appalling weather on the A66, in which he suffered serious head injuries in February 2011, meant that he didn’t play for the rest of the season or any of last season in the Championship for the relegated club - though he did play some games for Wharfedale in the second half of last season.
Tincknell is grateful to Knights’ boss Brett Davey for throwing him a lifeline during the summer and is keen to repay his faith.
“I’m really enjoying being here,” he told The Star at Castle Park this week. “It’s a great opportunity for me and they are a good bunch of lads.
“It’s a great ground to play on and the club have got great supporters, so it’s not a bad place to be.”
Tincknell has wasted no time in becoming a fans’ favourite and there was an air of expectation every time he had ball in hand in last Friday’s 18-18 draw at home to last season’s Championship runners-up Cornish Pirates.
Like the rest of his team-mates, Tincknell thought that Knights, who had lost all four previous games, were about to record their first victory of the season leading 18-15 into stoppage time, only to see Pirates plunder a share of the spoils with a long-range penalty.
“We were all gutted not to win, but the performance was a step forward from how we played at London Scottish the week before,” he said.
“We’ve put it behind us and we’ve just got to go to Leeds tomorrow and try again to get our first win.
“It’s not only important that we try and pick up a win because we haven’t done so, but because it’s a Yorkshire derby.
“It will probably mean more to the lads who have been brought up in Yorkshire but it is still important to me because it’s against my old club.
“I’m looking forward to going back there. I’ve got a lot of friends there and it will be good to see them again. We’ve not spoken to each other in the build-up; I think we are all waiting until after the game.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a good an open game. Leeds like to play rugby and we do as well so it could be a good spectacle.”
Tincknell’s clash with former Knights centre Fred Burdon, who switched clubs in the summer, promises to be one of the highlights.
Tincknell says that despite being big and fast there are aspects of his game he still needs to work on,
He claims that there is ‘massive potential’ in the club’s back division,
He still entertains hopes of getting back into Premiership rugby.
“As a player you always want to play at the highest level you can,” he said.