Titans players refusing to be distracted by ground troubles

Rotherham Titans' Tom Holmes.
Rotherham Titans' Tom Holmes.
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Rotherham Titans’ captain Tom Holmes says the players are concentrating their efforts on putting things right on the pitch, amid the ongoing saga over where the club will be playing next season.

The Titans are in dispute with Clifton Lane landowners, the Rotherham Athletic Company, over a lease that they are being asked to sign by September.

Whether they sign the lease or not, the requirements put down by the owners means second-tier rugby would not be permitted at the ground as the current negotiations stand, meaning the Titans are likely to have to move from their home of seven decades at the end of the season.

It has been a story that has lurked in the background for the last three weeks at Rotherham Titans, but on the pitch, captain Holmes insists it is business as usual for the players.

“It’s not our concern,” said the second-row forward. “Lee Blackett (head coach) sat us down when the story broke and nipped it in the bud straight away.

“He told us what was happening, but that we cannot affect anything.

“Whatever happens, happens. It’s not up to us and all we can control is matters on the pitch.”

On the pitch, Rotherham have been losing some of that control.

En route to a top-four finish last season they beat every team below them home and away, but in the six weeks since Christmas, they have lost to three of those teams – Moseley, Nottingham and Plymouth Albion – as their top-four hopes have been 

Last week’s loss at bottom-club Plymouth was particularly galling, but Holmes says the spirits in the dressing room remain high.

“The weather was terrible down in Plymouth and they managed the conditions better than we did, and full credit to them,” said Holmes.

“The pitch was cut up and it made it a real leveller and made it difficult for us to execute our game plan.

“It’s been a frustrating run because we have had opportunities to win all of those games.

“The games we have won we had to grind out the results.

“It’s not a case of us being disheartened by it all because in this league anyone can beat anyone.

“You’ve just got to get back on it quickly and that’s what we’ve got to do against Jersey.

“It’s a big game, especially after losing last week. We need a positive reaction.”

In contrast to Rotherham, Jersey are in fine form, having beaten Doncaster and Nottingham after giving Bristol an almighty scare.

Holmes said: “They’ve put a good run of form together with a very dominant forward pack.They’re a team full of confidence that will be coming up here to do a job on us. But we have to concentrate on ourselves.”

Blackett has made six changes for the visit of Jersey, including the introduction of Mark Cooke, a 21-year-old centre signed on a dual-registration deal from Bristol.