Tom Cruse is no maverick. He knows it is a risky business to talk about Rotherham Titans’ ‘mission impossible’ this season.
For as well as a few good men have played for the Clifton Lane club this season, head coach Lee Blackett wants them to look upon the Championship table with their eyes wide shut.
No one is allowed to get carried away with a promising start and Cruse – whose name lends itself to the odd reference to a certain Hollywood superstar – is not one to disobey the firm. “It’s hard to say how far we can go,” says Cruse, who has made headlines for more than just his name since joining Rotherham in the summer.
“We had quite an influx of players who have all settled in quickly but we’re trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves.
“We’re desperate to finish in that top four, though, because once you’re in there, anything can happen.
“But right now, we’re just focusing one game at a time.”
As for his name, the Manchester-born No 2 laughs: “I don’t actually like it, although I do appreciate I get a lot of headlines because of it.”
The publicity has been warranted. Cruse has been one of the discoveries of the season by a club who have a strong pedigree in reaching into the lower leagues and finding gems.
Developed in the Sale academy, the 5ft 10ins, 15st 10lb hooker has turned in some eye-catching performances for the Titans, with a heady cocktail of throwing, scrummaging and powerful running in the loose.
He is also a regular scorer of tries, notably the two he scored on his debut in the win against Moseley.
“It’s just a case of being in the right place at the right time,” he says. “I don’t try to take too much credit for that.
“It was nice to get a couple of tries on my debut against Moseley. That helps you as a new player to settle in much easier.”
As a new recruit, he was quick to buy into the ethos of the new-look Titans, who have won seven of their opening 10 Championship games ahead of the Boxing Day visit of Bedford.
“It’s a very professional set-up and that owes a lot to the management and the coaches,” says Cruse.
“Lee really forces that mentality onto you.
“I was told before I arrived about how formidable a place Clifton Lane can be and the rest of the new guys have really bought into that.
“It’s our job to continue developing that reputation by making sure we’re a tough team to beat at home.”
Rotherham defeated Bedford 12-11 in an attritional encounter in the British and Irish Cup at Clifton Lane earlier this year, and Cruse believes both teams have improved since that day.
“The weather is going to be similar to how it was when we beat them in the British and Irish Cup,” he adds.
“Before that game, and even now, I think opponents looked at us and how many tries we were scoring and thought we could only play one way.
“So on that day in particular it was good for us as a pack to show we can mix it with the best.”
Kick-off is 2pm.