Hooker Hafu out to drive forward Doncaster’s season

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Former Premiership hooker Will Hafu is out to make an instant impression for Doncaster Knights this afternoon.

The Tongan, 29, arrived in South Yorkshire from London Welsh before Christmas and earns his first start against Nottingham in the British & Irish Cup at Castle Park.

Doncaster need a win to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages and Hafu’s experience should prove telling not only here but, more importantly, also in the club’s ongoing battle for Championship survival.

Given Rhys Buckley was handed a three-week ban on Thursday night, ruling him out until the first week of February, the front-rower knows he has a real chance to press his claims.

“So far my time here has been great,” he admitted. “I had a talk with Clive (Griffiths) before I joined and everything he said about the club was exactly what I was after.

“I’m looking forward to Saturday. It is my first start and I’m really excited to show people what I can do and, hopefully, help the Knights up the table.

“I think I bring a little experience to the forwards because we have a lot of young guys and I will be looking to really pick the tempo up and keep spirits high.

“When I get a chance, I hope to run with the ball in hand and hopefully take us forward as a team.”

Doncaster will certainly benefit from his aggressive style but they also have the bonus of a timely return for last season’s top try-scorer Michael Keating, who has been missing for most of the season due to a shoulder injury.

Furthermore, Knights fans will be keen to get the first sight of dynamic ex-Rotherham Titans and Leeds Carnegie scrum-half Joe Bedford, another recent signing who makes their starting line-up.

His former club Rotherham, meanwhile, head to Plymouth still hopeful of getting through their own pool.

Coach Alex Codling, who names a new centre pairing of Joel Gill and Pale Nonu for the injured Eamonn Sheridan and Lee Blackett, said: “We had a great result in Munster last time out in the B&I Cup and we are looking to build on that.

“Unfortunately, by us coughing up a late penalty in Ireland and allowing them to get a draw out of the match, we have now lost control of the group.

“However, we are not out of the competition and we’ve got to go down there and get the win. That’s our aim.”

Leeds, though, have no chance of proceeding but that does not mean they are heading to Jersey for anything other than victory – especially given their recent record against the Channel Islanders.

The West Yorkshire club suffered a surprise Championship defeat there before Christmas having also lost in the B&I Cup at York.

“They have beat us in our last two games so that is certainly disappointing from our point of view,” admitted coach Diccon Edwards, who makes 10 changes to the line-up that defeated Plymouth in the Championship last weekend.

“On the whole, we have been disappointed with our performances in the British & Irish Cup this season and we want to finish the campaign with two strong games.

“Hopefully, the surface will be a little better at Jersey this week and things have dried out a bit there to allow us to play some rugby.”

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