Rotherham Titans coach backs club to escape bottom of the table

Head Coach Andy Key
Head Coach Andy Key

Rotherham Titans’ head coach Andy Key is backing his side to come good as they prepare for the daunting task of facing unbeaten league leaders Bristol this weekend.

The Clifton Lane outfit have lost all seven of their league fixtures to date and sit bottom of English rugby’s second tier.

However, a much improved performance in a narrow defeat against second-placed Ealing last time out has given the team a renewed vigour, says Key.

He said: “The overall performance was good. It was interesting listening to feedback afterwards from their coaches but we are realistic about our own performances and where we are as a team. It was a performance which could have been better and could have been a win. We’re pleased, but there’s more to come.

“I think we’ve just turned a really important corner going into the week off and we’ve had a really good training week balanced with some improvements on what we did on the weekend.”

Summing up the Titans’ season so far, Key said: “You wouldn’t say it’s anything other than disappointing at the moment from a results perspective. But, where I think the team is going, and the recent performance started to highlight that, we’re starting to get ourselves into the sort of shape that we need to compete in this league.

“It’s not where we’d want to be by any stretch of the imagination. Nobody planned that for where we wanted to be, but we are moving in the right direction and I’m very confident there’s some good results just around the corner.”

After a free weekend, Rotherham face a tough challenge away to Bristol this Saturday.

The southwest outfit, aiming for an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership, have won all their league fixtures to date.

“We’re playing against a side that have come down from the Premiership and retained a high percentage of what they’ve got; they’ve got a good coaching team, a good structure – the whole thing is David and Goliath,” Key said.

“But we won’t fear them; we’ll hugely respect them because that’s what we need to do. We’ll do our homework on them like we do on every other team and when we come to meet them we’ll be in a good position.”

Key, who achieved promotion to the Aviva Premiership in 2009 as Director of Rugby at Yorkshire Carnegie, revealed how the side has stayed motivated through a difficult few months.

“We’re in a result driven environment, we all know that.

“The one thing is that we’re honest with each other, that’s the thing we have to be. It’s no good hiding, no good finger-pointing; we are all in this together. The reality is that they can see they’re improving, they can see the rewards, albeit some of the results haven’t suggested that,” he said.

“There’s a lot of things other than just the score that really do raise the confidence levels and self-belief within the team.

Titans have just two bonus points to their name at present, a predicament which sees them lying seven points from safety. Despite this, Key has praised the efforts of his players.

When asked what has pleased him the most this season, he said: “Resilience. The fact that the team has stayed strong, it’s kept together, and it can see what it’s doing. It’s working hard, it’s putting the time in.

“Those are the things that I’ve been heartened with, it’s because the attitude has been brilliant, the commitment has been second to none and we are improving. We know we’re getting there. I don’t think it’ll be too long before we don’t just string one together, we’ll string two or three together.”