Planning already underway at Titans and Leeds

David Doherty scoring for Leeds.
David Doherty scoring for Leeds.
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Having seen their Premiership dreams broken at the weekend, Rotherham Titans and Leeds Carnegie might be forgiven for thinking they would be allowed leeway to lick their wounds.

Certainly, the 2013-14 Championship season has been a bruising one, yet in the ever-evolving world of professional sport there is no time to stand still and reflect.

Rotherham have done exceedingly well this season, but can they prove they are no flash in the pan?

And after a second straight play-off semi-final defeat, will Leeds be equipped next season to go two steps better and win promotion?

Carnegie are a club building for the future with a name change to Yorkshire this summer designed to attract the finest young players the county has to offer in the hope of giving them a vehicle to get to the Premiership.

For the immediate future, the squad that will wear the county name for the first time in September is a long way from being shaped.

So far they have announced only three new signings, the Newcastle Falcons duo of scrum-half Chris Pilgrim and centre James Fitzpatrick, plus fly-half Harry Leonard from Edinburgh – though it is understood three more at least are on their way.

Fourteen players so far have re-signed for next season, among them props Charlie Beech, Lee Imiolek, Ben Hooper and Damien Tussac; fellow forwards Mike Myerscough, Ryan Burrows, Chris Walker and Matt Smith; and backs David Doherty and Pete Lucock.

Players like Glyn Hughes, Rob Vickerman, Fred Burdon, Richard Beck and Phil Nilsen are all under contract for another season at least, but Leeds are far from the finished article.

The spine of this year’s team is being ripped out with lock Calum Green heading to Newcastle, scrum-half Craig Hampson bound for Bristol and full-back Stevie McColl switching to Gloucester.

Another player rumoured to be moving to the Kingsholm is captain Jacob Rowan, which, if true, will be a big blow to Carnegie’s hopes of retaining their home-grown talent.

Versatile back Alex Lozowski is joining Wasps, who will also regain livewire loanee Jonah Holmes, an explosive game-changer at times for Leeds this season. David Sisi returns to Bath after some powerhouse performances.

While Leeds have still to finish their remodelling, Rotherham – for whom the goal now is to build a squad capable of mounting promotion challenges year after year – are further down the road.

They have made a better start to the summer than previous years, in which they have gained a reputation as a feeder club.

Some of their talent has again been cherry picked. Juan Pablo Socino, the Championship’s leading points scorer, will join Newcastle while highly-regarded Laurence Pearce, a 20-stone back-row forward, has been snapped up by Leicester Tigers.

Three of the stars of the Titans’ season will be battling for promotion against them next season with forwards Ben Sowery and Dan Sanderson, and scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone, having all signed for relegated Worcester.

New Zealand-born fly-half Dallan Murphy is moving abroad but the fact that he, Socino and Mulchrone are the only backs leaving the club points to Rotherham retaining some of their strength for next season.

Sean Scanlon, Michael Keating, Jamie Broadley, Curtis Wilson and Jack Roberts are just a few of the talented backs who have signed on for another campaign under head coach Lee Blackett.

In the forwards, Ali Birch, Tom Cruse, Alex Rieder and Robin Hislop have all committed their futures. Blackett has been active in the recruitment market as well.

Fly-half James McKinney is returning to the club after a season of development at Ulster, while up-and-coming scrum-half from Darlington Mowden Park, Zylon McGiffin, will hope to further his progression at Rotherham.

Furthermore, they have agreed a dual-registration deal with Newcastle which will see four players link up with the Titans. The club are confident these players will be with them for much of the season, not just parachuted in on a Thursday as is often the case with such deals. Ben Morris, who joined towards the end of the season, was the first of those Falcons to fly in, and one of the remaining three for next season is understood to be a scrum-half.

In the pack, Rotherham have signed Perry Parker from Edinburgh, Adam Macklin from Ulster and Willie Ryan from Cork.

Though hurting at present, the race to do better next season is already under way at both clubs.