Oli Goss, Stevie McColl and Fred Burdon were once key members of the Doncaster Knights’ backline and their departure to Leeds during the last two years is one of the reasons why, on their return, they find their former club rooted to the foot of the Championship and staring relegation in the face.
Their predicament is a far cry from how Goss left them last season, in eighth, and how he found them in his first season, when they finished fourth.
“I have a lot of good memories. I know a lot of guys there and I feel for them,” said Goss, 25.
“Why has this happened? Maybe it’s the large turnaround of players which can jeopardise the structure of the squad.
“When you only have 10 or 12 players being retained then sometimes you can suffer.
“Recruitment is hard, they’ve had a few tough results, they had the coaching change midway through the season and when you add all those things together...
“I’m an adopted Doncastrian and I think it would be bad for the division if they were relegated.
“It’s a great venue, a great place to play.
“Everything is set up there to be a Championship club, it looks the part, and it would be sad to see them go down and it would be sad for the region.
“Hopefully, with the quality of players they have they can start, after this weekend, picking up a few results. They’re not getting hammered by teams, they’re difficult to play against.”
Today’s Yorkshire derby, which has the added incentive of being part of the inaugural Yorkshire Regiment Trophy between the county’s three clubs in the Championship, is significant at both ends of the table.
While Doncaster battle for points to bridge the gap to second-bottom Jersey, Leeds need to reclaim their place in the top four after defeat to Newcastle saw them overtaken by Cornish Pirates. “We believe we belong in the top four,” said Goss.
“We just need to put a string of results together and that will come from us building on our performance last weekend.
“It’s the ability to eke out a result that can be the difference.”
Loan signings Ollie Frost and James Currie are on the bench for Leeds. Jamie Lennard starts at fly-half for Doncaster. Tom Luke moves to 12, Connor Braid to full-back and Michael Keating returns on the wing.
Knights chief Clive Griffiths said: “It’s four points we have to get, it doesn’t matter if it is Leeds, Rotherham or whoever.”