Doncaster Knights: Michael Hills promises Knights will be up for the fight against Newcastle
Doncaster Knights will kick off their 2020 schedule at Newcastle Falcons tomorrow night (8pm) languishing in the wrong half of the Championship table.
“We’re obviously disappointed with how the season has gone so far,” said skipper Michael Hills.
“But things are starting to look up and we are looking much more like the team we should be in the last month or so.
“As I say, we are not where we want to be but injuries have played their part – though you can’t use that as an excuse because they are part and parcel of the game.
“I think the main thing which has affected us as a result of the injuries is the number of combinations.
"I can’t tell you how many we’ve had in the forwards and that has affected our consistency in the set-pieces and the shape we want to play in attack.
“Fair play to the boys, some of whom have had to play out of position at times, they have put a lot of hard graft in. You can’t fault the effort and that is what you always get at Doncaster.
“With the players who have come back after injury, and the signings we’ve made, we’ll have healthy competition for places and more boys training which will enable us to have better sessions. That is what is exciting for us going forward.
“It’s been very difficult at times to work on things in training because of the lack of numbers but if we continue to work at the same intensity as we have been doing with a bigger squad then we’ll get our reward.”
Knights ended 2019 on a winning note when ending a run of five defeats with a derby win over Yorkshire Carnegie.
“We expected to beat Carnegie but it was a derby and sometimes the form book goes out of the window so we didn’t underestimate them because it was a must-win game for us as it was for them,” said the flanker.
Knights go from taking on a Carnegie side facing relegation to a Newcastle side looking a good bet to bounce straight back to the Premiership.
Hills admits that Knights couldn’t have had a tougher start to the New Year but promises they will give them a game after their encouraging showing when the two teams met at Castle Park in the Championship Cup last month.
“We were encouraged by how we played that day and we looked more like Doncaster than we had done when losing 57-0 in the Championship Cup at the start of the season,” he said.
“But we still know we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“You can’t sit back against a team like Newcastle - you’ve got to take the game to them and we showed that we can cause them problems when we did that.
“But we’ve got to do that for the full 80 minutes when we go back up to Kingston Park tomorrow. They are the best team in the league and they’ll have some quality players back who missed the game at Castle Park so we know we’ve got a big job on our hands.”