DO NOT try telling Doncaster Knights hooker Alex Keeton today’s British & Irish Cup game with Rotherham Titans is a ‘dead rubber’.
Admittedly, neither of the South Yorkshire rivals can qualify for the knockout stages from their final pool game at Castle Park.
However, not only does it remain ‘the’ derby, it is particularly special for Keeton given the 23-year-old could finally debut.
If he does appear off the bench, he will become the first Academy player to feature in Doncaster’s first XV since its formation almost 18 months ago.
“I’ve played at Doncaster all my life,” said Keeton.
“I remember running out as a mascot with Chris Conway many years ago; my dad played here so it’s nice to have the chance to follow in his footsteps.
“I’m feeling a bit nervous but at the same time I’m excited.
“I’m just going to focus on my game and do the job that I’m there to do.
“It has been quite tough training with the first-team – the lads certainly haven’t gone easy on me – and I have been getting smashed around a bit.
“But I have been holding my own and hopefully I’ll be able to show that on Saturday.”
Keeton has been training intermittently with the Knights since pre-season whilst studying at Doncaster College and University Centre.
He has represented the Academy in the British University and Colleges league as well as featuring for Doncaster Phoenix 1st XV and is a big advocate of the work the Knights Academy is doing.
“I don’t believe I would have got this chance to play professionally anywhere else,” said Keeton.
“As part of the Academy we receive professional coaching and expertise, whether it is (hooker) Ben Hunter taking me through line-outs, (rugby development manager) Ants Posa helping us around the park and making sure we know where to be or (winger) Tyson Lewis showing us what it takes to be a professional athlete.
“There is a real pathway for Academy players to go down.”