FEW people will appreciate being on home turf today more than Doncaster Knights’ Paul Jarvis.
The full-back does not mind away trips necessarily but he is not too keen on flying and the South Yorkshire club have taken to the skies in more ways than one recently.
They are, of course, soaring at the top of the Championship table due to an impressive 12-match unbeaten run that has seen them reach the British & Irish Cup finals, too.
However, in two of the previous three Saturdays they have literally needed to get airborne with games in Jersey, whom they host in the B&I Cup this afternoon, and Ireland.
The former was a particularly fraught occasion for nervous Jarvis given the stormy conditions that led to a heavy landing in the Channel Islands.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, he admitted: “I fly so often but it just doesn’t get any better for me. I’ve had a few bad flights in my time and it’s not ideal.
“The lads give it out to me about it but I can take it. I deserve it!
“The flight back from Ireland last week was all right. We’d won and it was dark so you can’t see anything then.”
Rampant Doncaster vanquished Connacht Eagles 40-0 in Galway to leave them in pole position in Pool Five, already secure of a quarter-final berth and with only today’s opponents able to displace them from top in the last tie of the group phase.
Jersey, of course, are the only side who have managed to avoid losing to Clive Griffiths’s side during that 12-game sequence.
Doncaster have won 10 from 12 but drew 22-22 in the B&I Cup at Jersey in November and, similarly, finished level 17-17 when they met there in that league game earlier this month.
So, do the Channel Islanders have their number?
“To be fair, we’ve played them in terrible conditions twice now,” said Jarvis.
“The weather has been a really big issue in both of those (draws). That one a few weeks ago was definitely the worst game in my professional career in terms of weather like that.
“I can’t really remember playing in worse growing up either and it wasn’t ideal being a full-back hanging around freezing like that in that rain and wind.
“Jersey are a strong team, though, and especially strong up front. They match us physically and we know what we’re going to get from them now.
“This is the fourth time we’ll have played them this season but, hopefully, we will get the win.
“Hopefully, we’ll get the weather, too, as if we can get that we might have them.”
Second-placed Doncaster return to Championship action a week tomorrow when they host Rotherham Titans in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Their South Yorkshire rivals have been in a slump but Jarvis, who joined Doncaster from Coventry in 2013, knows better than to under-estimate them.
“Form goes out of the window with any derby and, ever since I’ve been at Doncaster, we’ve always come up short against Rotherham,” said the player, who was named in the Championship Team of the Year last term.
“I’ve never beaten them in a Knights shirt so, hopefully, next Sunday will be the one for us.
“Obviously, things are going really well at the moment. We are taking each match as it comes and these 12 games have crept up on us really. The boys are working really hard at the moment and it is just important to build on that for the second half of the season.”
Understandably, talk of an unlikely promotion – unfancied Doncaster were fighting relegation last year and have never been near the Premiership – has begun to slowly permeate around the Castle Park vicinity.
Griffiths’s side certainly did not show any signs of slowing up against Connacht a week ago.
Jarvis, 26, maintained: “They were a good outfit but our organisation just blew them off the park,” explained Jarvis, who hopes to go one better than last term when Doncaster reached the B&I Cup final but lost to Worcester Warriors.
“They don’t get to train together all the time and were a bit of a mish-mash of a team. But we talked beforehand about making sure we didn’t get out-enthused.
“When Connacht came to us we won but they caught us by surprise a bit by their young lads and their enthusiasm.
“So, over there, it was important to start big in that first 20 minutes and we did. But we still came away a little frustrated we left a few points out on the park.
“We won 40-nil and still weren’t happy. I guess that shows where we are as a team at the moment.”
Yorkshire Carnegie, just a point behind Doncaster in the league, look to seal top spot in Pool Five at the winless Ospreys Premiership Select in Neath today.
Bryan Redpath has made seven changes with Sam Allan starting at full-back, Chris Pilgrim the starting scrum-half and the team’s captain.