New signing Mike Mayhew is set to make his debut for Doncaster Knights against one of his former clubs in Saturday’s Championship Cup group game against Yorkshire Carnegie at Castle Park (2.30pm).
Mayhew, who played over 40 games for the Leeds-based club, is expected to come off the bench during a game in which Knights will be looking to avenge a 33-20 defeat against the visitors at Hull Ionians last weekend.
Knights have also re-signed back row Ollie Stedman from Ealing Trailfinders until the end of the season.
“The lads were disappointed with how they played last week, especially in the first half, but I though after they went 33-3 down they showed some team spirit and resilience to come back towards the end,” said director of rugby Clive Griffiths.
“I know some people were a bit disgruntled but it has to be remembered that we had 12 players, including the four away on international duty, unavailable.
“We’ve also been using the cup games to look at different combinations and to rotate the squad and give players a bit of a rest wherever possible though we’ve not been able to do that at half-back, second-row and in the back-row because we haven’t had the bodies.
“Even though a couple of forwards have been struggling this week and will face late tests, we’ll have a stronger side than we did last weekend. We’ll be looking to start fielding a more settled side as we head towards the resumption of the league programme.”
Both (fly-half) Kurt Morath and No 8 Josh Tyrell are available again while scrum-half Henry Seniloli hopes to shake off a stomach bug.
Griffiths, who knows from personal experience what it is like dropping back into club rugby after playing on the international stage, doesn’t expect the likes of Morath and Tyrell, both seasoned internationals with Tonga and Samoa respectively, to encounter any problems after a month away from Castle Park.
“It’s probably the emotional side of the game rather than the physical that is different when you compare the two,” he said.
“Playing for your country is the highest accolade and they are big games playing against some of the best players in the world in front of big crowds.
“The pressure is off them now in some ways and speaking personally I was always pleased to be back to the club and be back with the lads. I’m sure they’ll quickly pick up from where they left off.”
Knights dropped two places to third in the four-strong group following last weekend’s defeat – their first in four league and cup games.
“I think we need to win two of our remaining games, though we’ll be looking to try and win them all to secure a home tie in the quarter finals and to build up some momentum ahead of our return to league rugby at the end of next month,” said Griffiths.