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Doncaster Knights ready to step up preparations in friendly opener at Sale Sharks

Josh Tyrell faces a race against time to be fit for the start of the season following a cartilage operation.
Josh Tyrell faces a race against time to be fit for the start of the season following a cartilage operation.

Doncaster Knights step up their pre-season campaign tomorrow night when taking on Premiership outfit Sale Sharks at Heywood Road in the first of three warm-up games.

The game will see Knights give a debut to a number of their new signings.

However last season’s regulars Josh Tyrell, who has had a recent cartilage operation, and centre Will Owen will both miss out on all three games.

“I’m hoping that Josh, who picked up the injury playing for Samoa, will be fit for the start of the season but it could be late September before Will, who had two knee operations last season, is ready,” said director of rugby Clive Griffiths.

Several other players who have picked up strains or knocks in pre-season training will also not be considered for tomorrow’s game.

“Not all of the squad will be involved tomorrow night but those fit players who don’t feature will play in the return at Castle Park next Saturday,” said Griffiths.

Griffiths is delighted that Newcastle Falcons, who visit Castle Park in the club’s final warn-up game on the 25th, have allowed young full-back Cameron Cowell to join Knights on a season-long loan.

The England 7s and England U20 star, who can also operate on the wing or at half-back, enjoyed two spells at Castle Park last season covering for Paul Jarvis.

“He’ll add pace to the back three and add to the strength in depth in those positions,” said the Welshman, who hopes to sign another couple of players before the season kicks-off in September at Cornish Pirates.

“We had several players lined up a few weeks ago but we were ambushed by Ealing who offered them more money,” said Griffiths, whose squad was boosted by the arrival of Fiji international scrum half Henry Seniloli earlier this week.

The Doncaster boss says he plans to rotate the squad he takes to Sale.

“It’s not so much about the result as to see how the things we have been working on in pre-season work out in a game situation,” he said.

“I don’t think fitness will be a problem as we’ve set the bar really high during pre-season training.

“It’s been a real hard slog for the players – especially the bigger boys - because of the unusual weather conditions. It’s been very gruelling.

“We’ve had to adapt to the conditions and also make sure the players upped their liquid intake.”

Knights’ match at Sale will be streamed live on Sale’s Facebook page. Kick off is 7.45pm.