ROTHERHAM TITANS are braced for a brand new era in a familiar old league this season.
Today sees the Titans compete in the third tier of English rugby for the first time in 23 years when they host Old Elthamians in their National One curtain-raiser.
It’s a new era for the club and it’s a really big challenge for us. It’ll take time for us to gel. It’s been a very, very difficult challenge to get 30-plus lads in.Joe Barker
The club went part-time over the summer following their relegation from the Championship.
Not since the 1995-96 campaign has the club been so low.
But players weighed down by relegation have made way for fresh faces over the summer.
“It’s a new era for the club and it’s a really big challenge for us,” Titans’ head coach Joe Barker told The Yorkshire Post. “It’ll take time for us to gel. It’s been a very, very difficult challenge to get 30-plus lads in. We didn’t get anyone through the door until May and it took lots of conversations. Our director of rugby Martin Jenkinson has worked his socks off.”
The culmination of that hard work has seen the Titans’ squad revamped with a young, hungry group eager to right the wrongs of last term’s demotion.
The club won just two of 22 league outings and understandably Barker and Jenkinson are looking to inject the winning feeling back into the club.
“There’s a lot of Yorkshire lads and I’m a big fan of getting lads from the area where you play.” added Barker.
“I think that we’ve got the youngest squad in the league.
“We’re not just building for this year, we’re building for the future.”
Barker has spent three years at Clifton Lane and knows the club’s new division well, having spent two years at Otley whilst also turning out for Doncaster Knights.
Among the plethora of arrivals at the club is highly-rated flanker Seb Nagle-Taylor, previously of Ealing and Jersey Reds.
Hull Ionians mark their return to National Two North with a highly-anticipated Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Tigers.
Ex-Bath player and Hull coach Alex Crockett will be hoping to kick-start life in their new division with a victory over Yorkshire rivals.
Tigers, meanwhile, will be hoping to push on from their mid-table finish last season.
Otley travel to the coast tomorrow to open their campaign against relegated Fylde who only picked up three wins throughout the whole of last season’s National One campaign.
Otley ended last season five points abovee the relegation zone in 11th place. The West Yorkshire side, led by head coach Tom Casson, will be looking to improve on last year’s disappointment and challenge higher up the table.
Huddersfield host Sedgley Park at Lockwood Park. Huddersfield surpassed expectation in their first season in the fourth division last term, finishing sixth on 77 points.
Wharfedale who narrowly survived the drop last season travel to newly-promoted Peterborough Lions.
The Greens finished a mere three points outside the relegation zone last season and will hope to turn their good fortunes into something more substantial this season.