BRETT Davey has urged his Knights team to savour the big game atmosphere - and to not get stage fright - when they tackle Rotherham Titans in front of the television cameras on Saturday (12.05pm).
Castle Park’s biggest crowd of the season is expected to watch this weekend’s eagerly awaited South Yorkshire derby, a game also chosen for live coverage on Sky Sports.
And director of rugby Davey does not want his team to miss the chance of impressing a sizeable watching audience.
Davey said: “Saturday’s a big day for the club with the television cameras here and it should be a great occasion.
“I hope it’s a big crowd and hopefully we’ve learned our lesson from the Leeds game, which was the last time we had a bigger than normal attendance.
“I thought we were boring against Leeds.
“We didn’t show any sort of fluency and I wasn’t impressed with how we played.
“It ended 9-9 but we played nowhere near our potential and it was probably a missed opportunity in terms of attracting a few people back to Castle Park.
“There might have been a bit of stage fright on that occasion - so hopefully the boys will have got that out of their systems.
“I want the lads to get back to playing the free-flowing rugby they know they are capable of producing.”
This weekend’s derby will be Doncaster’s second appearance on Sky Sports this season after an impressive performance in an entertaining 18-18 draw at Bedford Blues in October.
But their build-up to Rotherham’s visit has been far from ideal.
Recovery time has been reduced after the postponed Nottingham game was rearranged for last night, while the freezing weather has meant Doncaster have played just three times since the turn of the year.
“It’s not ideal but we’re used to playing several games in a short space of time after what happened last season,” said Davey.
“The players know how to deal with it - and they’ve been training really well over the last few weeks.
“The other positive is that we are going into the final part of the season with almost a fully fit squad.
“Tom Luke and David McIlwaine will miss the rest of the season but I can rotate the other lads as I please for these final few games before the play-offs.
“We’re in a slightly false league position because I feel like we’ve dropped at least ten points this season,” he added.
“So it’d be nice to end the league campaign with a few positive results.
“The result is everything to the fans against Rotherham - it’s all about local bragging rights.
“But from a coaching point of view I want us to get back to the level of performance we were at before the weather intervened.
“We played very well in those two bonus point wins against Bedford and Esher.”
Knights will also be eyeing revenge this weekend after Rotherham prevailed 23-10 in the corresponding fixture at Clifton Lane.
Davey said: “They’re a big side and we know what to expect.
“It was a bit of a strange game at their place because we played well - and defended really well at times - but they scored the majority of their points when we were down to 14 men.
“To be fair to them, they’ve had a good season and it should be a cracking contest this weekend.
“But we want to finish the regular season at Castle Park on a high.”
Doncaster Knights v Rotherham Titans is live on Sky Sports 2 from 12pm on Saturday.