Doncaster Knights v Jersey: Knights look to make home advantage count in vital clash - Bulumakau
There were justified fears that centre Mat Clark's ankle injury in early February could have an adverse affect on Doncaster Knights' play-off hopes.
Clark had arguably been the pick of an impressive back division at the time of his injury against top-four rivals Ealing,
But the strong-running Clark arguably hasn’t been missed as much as some people possibly feared mainly due to the efforts of Dougie Flockhart and Andy Bulumakau.
“Because of the way we train any player coming into the team is aware of the system in place for their particular position, so it wasn’t that much of a problem coming in for Mat when I did,” said Bulumakau ahead of this weekend’s crucial home game against Jersey Reds.
“You are certainly expected to know what to do when you come into the side to replace a player, whoever you are, even if you are different types of players.
“Indeed, all the three regular centres, and that includes Lloyd Hayes, are all different.
“That can be a good thing in a way because it gives (director of rugby) Clive Griffiths options when we are all fit.
“The biggest problem is that you aren’t match fit if you haven’t being playing on a regular basis but you gradually get up to the pace of the game.
“Obviously, like all the players, I want to be playing every week but I know that’s not always going to be the case. But whether I’m playing or not I work hard in training during the week because that is what I get paid to do.”
Like his team-mates, Bulumaua was disappointed to finish up on the losing side against Cornish Pirates at Mennaye Field ten days ago.
Apart from a midfield burst which could have brought reward but for a better pass, he had little opportunity to reproduce the form shown in the televised derby against second-placed Yorkshire Carnegie the previous week.
His two-try display, the first showing all the attacking attributes which makes him such a threat with ball in hand in space, helped secure Knights a psychological victory against a side they could meet in the play-offs.
“We beat them over two legs in the play-offs last season and there is no reason why we couldn’t do so again this season,” he said.
“Jersey have had a bit of an up and down season but they are definitely finishing strongly and pose a threat both up front and in the backs.
“But we’re at home on Saturday and that is a massive advantage compared to having to play at St Peter, where we lost 35-29 in December.
“I personally don’t like the pitch and there can often be other problems for visiting sides due to the weather, which is often windy.”