Strong-running Doncaster Knights centre Lloyd Hayes has made up for lost time on his return to action.
Hayes missed the opening month or so of the club's Championship campaign after suffering a shoulder injury in a pre-season but has been one of their most consistent players in recent games.
“It’s nice to be back playing,” said the 6ft 2in back who celebrated his 26th birthday earlier this month.
“It’s always difficult trying to get back when you’ve been out injured and the boys in the team have been playing well.
“I got my shot and I knew that I had to take it so there was a bit of pressure.
“It helps that I’ve been playing alongside Will (Owen) in most of the games I’ve played this season because we’ve got a bit of history being together at Rotherham and we kind of know how each other plays.
“As I say I’ve been happy with how I’ve been playing but there is a lot of competition for places in the centres, especially with Mat Clark fit again (after his long-term injury) so you can’t afford to have a bad game.”
Knights go into Saturday’s game having dropped to fifth in recent weeks with only the draw against third-placed Bedford in their last home game helping to lift the spirits of the supporters.
“It was always going to be tough playing against the top three sides on back-to-back weekends so we knew it was important to get something out of the first of those to give us some confidence against Ealing and Bristol,” said Hayes.
Like the rest of his team-mates Hayes was disappointed with the result at Ealing on Saturday but is confident Knights are capable of stepping up to the plate against Bristol.
“We know that Bristol are a quality side, as are Ealing, but I wouldn’t say that we are that far behind (when we can field our strongest side) when we play for the full 80 minutes,” he said.
“We’ve got a decent record against Bristol in recent years and the times we’ve beaten them we’ve deserved to win so I’m sure that will be at the back of their minds in the build-up to Saturday’s game.”
Having missed the Ealing game, Hayes is hoping that Owen will be fit to face Bristol.
“He had a stormer down there when we beat them in the B&I Cup earlier in the season and was probably the man of the match,” he said.