Doncaster Knights: Sale Sharks-bound WillGriff John reflects on London Irish semi-final and decision not to seek promotion to Premiership

WillGriff John
WillGriff John

Doncaster Knights prop WillGriff John, who came on as a second half replacement, won his fitness battle to make the Championshhp play-offs.

But the the Welshman, who missed the run-in with a knee injury, had hoped for a better result than the 35-3 semi-final first-leg defeat against London Irish.

Especially on what is likely to be his last appearance at Castle Park as a Doncaster player given the size of the task facing the South Yorkshire club in the second-leg at the Madejski Stadium this Saturday.

The powerfully-built forward, who is joining Premiership outfit Sale Sharks, is one of several players on duty at the weekend to be moving to pastures new at the end of the season.

Like the rest of his team-mates, John had hoped that the Knights would still be in the frame after the first leg.

But he offers no excuses for what turned out to be a much easier win than predicted for the Exiles.

“It was nice to be back playing with the boys again but it obviously wasn’t the result we were looking for,” he said.

“They lived off our various mistakes in the first half and it was the same in the second when we also had two players sin-binned and the pressure all adds up.

“We were still in the game at half time and although they scored early in the second half I don’t think that was the killer blow.

“We kept on going but they’ve got a very good defence and they come at you hard which makes it difficult to find the space to get over the gain-line and the likes of Paul Jarvis and Tyson Lewis didn’t see much of the ball.

“Their kick and chase game was very good and they put a lot of pressure on our back-three which made it hard for them to counter attack.”

John says that Knights won’t be travelling down to Reading just to make up the numbers.

“We lost the first leg of last year’s final against Bristol and then went down there and gave them a hiding so anything can happen,” he said. “Obviously we know we’ve got a big job on our hands.

“We’ve certainly got to make better use of any chances which come our way. We’ve only scored one try against them this season but we have created chances.”

Commenting on the club's announcement about not seeking Premiership rugby at this moment in time, John said: “The boys were obviously disappointed by the decision but it didn’t mean that they weren’t going to play as well as they could.

“As a player you want to play as well as you can every game and not let either yourself or the team down.”