Toby Freeman was living the life of Riley, helping promote rugby union in the Basque country when the call came from Andre Bester to swap sunny Spain for windswept Clifton Lane.
Freeman, 24, a towering lock from Cornwall, jumped at the chance.
“I loved it in Spain. I was helping promote the sport, working in schools etc, and it was a big help that Biarritz was only 30 minutes up the road,” said Freeman, who played and won a cup for Ordizia.
“But when you’re presented with an opportunity by Andre Bester you’d be stupid not to take it.
“I was looking for an opportunity to come back and play at a higher level of rugby, and also hopefully progress, and everything Andre said to me was very encouraging.
“He seems to have a knack for finding guys, the list he rattled off; Dave Strettle, Hendre Fourie, goes on and on. There were a number of guys last season who progressed onto either Rabo Direct or Premiership teams.
“I was told one or two things about what Bester was like before I came. I remember one of my first scrummaging sessions of pre-season, we hit upwards of 180 live scrums, so that was a painful morning the following day.
“But it has met my expectations, and more. What he’s doing with the group is good, we’re coming together. He knows what he’s looking for and he can mould players into what he wants.”
Bester is still at the moulding stage with his maturing Titans, who showed last week at Plymouth that despite an unbeaten run of three games they are still susceptible to slip-ups.
“We’ve had a couple of good results but last Friday night against Plymouth was a shock to the system,” said Freeman, who lines up against Bristol today, a team Rotherham humiliated at Clifton Lane last term.
“But it’s one result, we’re still fifth in the table and we’ve addressed the issues like any side does when they’ve had a loss.
“Bristol will also be stinging after a couple of results that have gone against them.
“But we’ve got standards and we need to perform to those standards.”
Rotherham have signed Joe Ellyat to provide cover in the back row.