Big-spending Nottingham threat to Rotherham’s record

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Only one point and two places separate Rotherham Titans from today’s visitors Nottingham but in terms of recruitment, they are poles apart.

Rotherham’s head coach Andre Bester is a noted unearther of hidden gems, regularly plundering the lower leagues to find raw talent he can polish up, develop and, more often than not, move on.

England international Hendre Fourie was a case in point several years ago while of the current crop, Sam Dickinson from Sheffield Tigers, Palepoi Nonu from Cornish All Blacks and Robin Copeland from Plymouth are just some of the players he has recruited from down below.

Nottingham, by contrast, have done most of their shopping in the top leagues.

Their director of rugby Glenn Delaney has signed a couple of players from Newcastle Falcons; has brought in Sean Romans from Super XV rugby Down Under, and perhaps most notably, England international Ayoole Erinle from Biarritz.

Delaney also took Juan Pablo Socino from Rotherham in the summer.

“Juan Pablo is the best inside centre in the Championship,” said Bester of a player he brought in 12 months earlier from Argentina.

“But that’s the route Nottingham went down and they have a very strong squad.

“We went for younger, up-and-coming players; people you might not have heard of before.”

Nottingham pose a big threat to Rotherham’s unbeaten league record at Clifton Lane.

The two teams drew at Meadow Lane in September but Delaney’s men on their day can be formidable opponents.

“They’re a very physical side,” explained Bester.

“They play at a high tempo, and in Craig Hammond they have one of the best leaders in the division.”

With Rotherham now out of the British and Irish Cup, Bester is targeting 50 points to ensure his side will be in the promotion play-offs at the end of the regular season.

With eight games left, the Titans are seven points shy of the target.

When they breach 50, Bester plans to rotate his squad.

“I don’t want my players playing more than 28 games,” said Bester.

“Plus I want to rotate the squad to give the youngsters a chance because they need to learn how tough the Championship is in case we need them in the play-offs.”

Doncaster’s players go in to Boxing Day’s Yorkshire derby with Leeds Carnegie on the end of a chastening from their head coach Brett Davey.

The Welshman pulled no punches in his assessment of his side’s performance in defeat to Swansea in the British and Irish Cup and is expecting more from his charges against their local rivals.

“It was miles away from the required standard,” he said of the performance.

“When you’ve got paying customers coming through the gate you have a responsibility to perform to a high standard – but we didn’t get going and we didn’t have the desire to win the game.

“Boxing Day is a great opportunity to bounce back – but I’d prefer not to be in that position in the first place.

“We’ve lost our momentum and we need to get it back against Leeds.

“When the fixtures were released this was the one that immediately caught the eye.

“The lads who are lucky enough to start the game have a responsibility to put on a big performance,” he said.

“I expect a lot better than what I saw against Swansea.”

Chris Hallam, PJ Gidlow and Alex Brown are all expected to feature.

Doncaster are offering a deal of ‘kids for a quid’ for the Boxing Day visit of Leeds to Castle Park.

Any child under 16 gets admittance for £1 to either seated or standing areas.