DIRECTOR of rugby Brett Davey insisted reputations count for nothing as he prepares for next week’s South Yorkshire derby with Rotherham Titans.
Davey was in an unforgiving mood following the 21-10 defeat to London Welsh and suggested some players may have played their way out of the side.
And he will allow fringe players to stake their claim for a place on the bus to Rotherham should they impress in Friday night’s British and Irish Cup trip to Ulster.
Davey said: “Where we usually look at the B&I Cup as a chance to give some of the lads game time, it’s now become an opportunity for them.
“If they play well at Ulster then they’ve got every chance of being in the side we take to Rotherham next week.
“Some of the lads might have played themselves out of the side against Welsh.”
Davey admitted being frustrated by the result at Castle Park last weekend.
The Knights were the better side for much of the first half and took the lead through a penalty try, converted by David McIlwaine.
Two penalties from McIlwaine sandwiched two from the Exiles’ Alex Davies with Doncaster carrying a 10-6 lead into the break.
Mistakes were prevalent throughout for the Knights and one such error cost them as Simon Whatling dribbled a loose ball from 30 metres to touch down, Davies coverting.
Gordon Ross added a penalty before Rob Lewis broke through poor Doncaster defending to find Edd Thrower who went over.
Davey said: “It was just an incredibly frustrating game because we dominated for 50 or 60 minutes of it.
“Welsh got into our 22 three times in the whole game and scored one try through that.
“The other was an error we just couldn’t legislate for.
“We just didn’t do the simple things right and it cost us.
“It was a case of us letting our guard down for a few seconds and getting a smack in the mouth.
“There are some hard lessons for the young lads to learn but they need to learn them quicker than they are doing now.”
The Knights are looking for a second successive win in the B&I Cup but face a tough task against Ulster who make their first appearance in the competition.
Ulster currently sit seventh in the Pro12 League and head into the visit of the Knights on the back of a 22-3 win over Connacht.
Davey said: “We’re looking forward to the trip because it’s something different and a chance to test ourselves against a really good side from the Pro12 League.
“It’s going to be an interesting game from our point of view because the players know what is at stake for them before the Rotherham game.”
Michael Keating is an early doubt for the trip after receiving a blow to his shoulder on Saturday.