Rotherham sign Sykes and Ryan to bolster depleted squad

Justin Burnell.
Justin Burnell.
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ROTHERHAM Titans head coach Justin Burnell has thanked his board of directors for 
financing a move for two new players as their injury problems continue.

The depleted South Yorkshire side, who host Jersey in the Championship this afternoon, have signed Leeds Beckett University three-quarter Jonny Sykes plus Darlington Mowden Park fly-half/full-back Caolan Ryan.

Ryan could debut off the bench at Clifton Lane this afternoon and Burnell, whose side are down in tenth place, is thankful of the added numbers.

“On the injury front there’s not much good news to tell, but the directors have supported us by enabling us to bring in two young lads for the rest of the season and we are grateful to them for that,” he said.

“Jonny is a student who can play in the centres or on the wing and we’ve brought in Caolan from Darlington Mowden Park who can play at ten or full back.

“Both these lads will add to the energy levels and the undoubted fighting spirit that we have in the squad.

“We saw that fighting spirit down at Ealing in the second half when we scored the three extra tries to secure a bonus point and that was a big plus for me.

“We will need that same fighting spirit against Jersey; they are blessed with a lot of good players, are a big, physical team and had a good win against the (Cornish) Pirates last time out so their confidence will be high coming into the game.

“They are two points above us in the league and we are expecting a massive physical challenge.”

Both sides have won just three of their eight league games so far but Rotherham could rise up and take their opponents’ place in eighth if they do manage to find a victory.

Burnell has made five changes to their starting line-up. Will Thomas and Will Goodwin who both picked up injuries against Ealing are replaced by full-back Tom Hudson and centre Joe Barker respectively, whilst Ben Foley returns from suspension to replace Dan Tai on the wing.

Up front Toby Salmon comes into the second-row as Oli Curry moves into the back-row to replace Buster Lawrence while Tom Calladine has recovered from a hand injury to make his first start of the season, as he replaces Dan Grange at openside.

Elsewhere, lowly Hull Ionians, with just three wins so far, host Ampthill in National One.

After a narrow loss to Sale last week, Wharfedale are at The Avenue again looking for a better dividend from their National Two North game with hooker Dan Stockdale and back-row Tom Whyte coming into the starting line-up.

Harrogate, meanwhile, host Chester and Sheffield Tigers welcome Otley in their Yorkshire derby.

Former England flanker Tom Croft makes his first Premiership appearance of the season for Leicester against Harlequins tomorrow after recovering from a back injury, while fellow internationals Tom Youngs and Ellis Genge also feature for the Tigers.

Wing Marland Yarde features for Quins after being released from England duty