Doncaster Knights: In-form Michael Heaney rises to the challenge

Michael Heaney in action against Rotherham.
Michael Heaney in action against Rotherham.

Doncaster Knights scrum-half Michael Heaney is facing competition for the No 9 shirt at Castle Park from summer signing Tom James.

But the Irishman has risen to the challenge in the opening month of the season and has started every game.

Heaney has been one of the club's most consistent players in the first five games of the season and has scored three tries in the last two games as Knights have bounced back from their first defeat of the season at Headingley with back-to-back wins.

James has also shown he knows the way to the line with a 50m opportunist try in the win over Nottingham at Castle Park after replacing Heaney during the second half.

“It's good for the team that there is competition for places throughout the squad,” said Heaney, who rarely found himself under pressure last season.

“I think Tom and I complement each other fairly well and that having us both in the squad is brilliant because you want the players who come off the bench to have an impact and I'd like to think that whoever that is at scrum-half will do that.”

Like everyone at Castle Park Heaney is happy with the start the club have made.

“I think four wins from our first five games is a good start to the season especially when you consider we've had a couple of derby games and also visited Jersey and London Scottish,” he said. “Hopefully we can pick up another win at Hartpury College this weekend.

“Even though there are no play-offs this season we still want to finish in the top four again. We just scraped in last season and we hope to do better this year.

“I know everyone is tipping Bristol to win the league but if we can remain in the mix and can keep churning out results, plus the odd upset here and there, there is the possibility that someone could catch them.

“Irrespective of that if we can finish in the top four again and have a good run in the B&I Cup then I think people will think we’ve had a reasonably successful season.”

Heaney admits that Knights, paired with Leinster A, Bristol and Cardiff Blues Select, could hardly have had a tougher qualifying group.

“We’ve always taken the competition seriously while I’ve been here and we’ll definitely be giving it a good go again and hopefully we'll do well,” he said.