Rotherham Titans have suffered a double blow as they prepare for one of their most important Championship matches of the season - Sunday’s derby against Doncaster Knights at Castle Park.
Two of their major players, winger Curtis Wilson and hooker Tom Cruse, have been banned by an RFU disciplinary committee and will be unable to play in a game both clubs need to win because of a recent slump in form.
Wilson has been banned for four weeks and will not be play again until the end of this month; it could have been a lot worse because the original RFU punishment was that he should be banned for seven weeks following his yellow card last Saturday during the second half of the league match against Moseley.
But when Wilson’s earlier good disciplinary record was taken into account, the ban was cut to a month; in the case of Cruse, who received a red card in the same match, the RFU could not decide what action to take and instead will meet again next week to discuss Cruse’s case.
Rotherham are known to be angry at the RFU’ stance, but are declining to comment, preferring to concentrate on Sunday’s derby. Coach Lee Blackett says: “Following our back to back defeats at home by Yorkshire Carnegie and Moseley, we have a point to prove. We must get back to winning form. Make no mistake: this is a big game. It is not only a derby, but also a vital league game because we need points in the Championship.”
Blackett has still to decide on his starting line-up for Sunday’s televised game which kicks off at 12.45 on Sky, but it is thought that Wilson’s place will be taken by Craig Dowsett and in the front row of the scrum, Jack Preece will come in as hooker.
Prop Lewis Thiede faces a late fitness test on an ankle,but other than that injury doubt, Rotherham should be at full strength apart from the two banned players.
Rotherham Titans from: Scanlon, Keating, Hayes, Gill, J. Davies, Dowsett, McKinney, A. Davies, White, Mitchell, Tampin, Preece, Matthews, Hislop, Maddison, Holmes, Thomas, Argyle, Rieder, Birch, Ryan, Morris, Gadd, Parker, Barrett, Macklin.