Titans v Carnegie: Former team-mates set for a derby showdown

As team-mates, Lee Blackett and Tommy McGee frequently went up against the best in English rugby as Leeds Tykes bid to establish themselves in the Guinness Premiership.

Yorkshire Carnegie's Tommy McGee.

Now they are on opposing touchlines, plotting the other’s downfall as the respective head coaches of Rotherham Titans and Yorkshire Carnegie.

Blackett enjoys the more stable position. Eighteen months into his first role as a head coach, the 32-year-old former back is proving a dab hand.

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He took unfashionable Rotherham to the top four last season and has manoeuvred them into the promotion equation again this season. They have also won five out five in the British and Irish Cup, and need only a point today to secure a home tie in the quarter-finals.

“This game means too much to everyone at the club for us to just settle for that,” said Blackett, whose team have won twice against Carnegie already this season.

“We have been on the receiving end of some big defeats to Carnegie in recent years – this season aside – and those defeats still hurt a lot of people at this club.

“Carnegie are a completely different side to what we’ve seen so far this season and we’re under no illusions as to the challenge we’ll face.

“I’ve known Tommy for 10 years. He’s got them running different lines and this will be the toughest test of our defence for a long time.”

McGee is working more on a day-to-day basis. The stand-in head coach was given the three games of the B&I Cup to steady the ship in the wake of Gary Mercer’s failed stewardship, and in winning the first two, he has has started to turn the tide.

“We are not kidding ourselves,” said McGee, who has been told to continue in the caretaker capacity for the foreseeable future. “We have won the last two but we need to see that progression in the next run of Championship games.

“We’re very much of the ethos of it being one step at a time. We’re very happy with where we are. We’re working on the right things and the focus is strong.”

On today’s opponents, he said: “I’ve seen suggestions that they embarrassed us twice. That wasn’t the way we saw it at all.

“Rotherham are a good side, they play a good brand of rugby and they’re well coached.

“If we can give anything near our best, say eight out of 10 in terms of intensity and accuracy, we’ll be in with a chance.”