The Doncaster Knights are renowned as the yo-yo boys of the English rugby leagues, having been the most promoted side in recent history.
With a new multi-million pound Castle Park Stadium, and a strong eighth placed finish to last year’s campaign, The Knights will be hoping to build on their relative success in this forthcoming season.
At the time of writing, the Yorkshire club are preparing to play their first pre-season game against the Newcastle Falcons, who last season plied their trade in the top division of English rugby, and new signing and open-side flanker Jethro Rawling cannot wait to face the North East side.
The former Leicester Tigers’ Academy player ended last season by helping Jersey become the 2011/12 National One Champions, and he believes starting their season against such tough opposition will prove a valuable test for him and the rest of the squad.
“Pre-season has gone very well. It’s been tough but enjoyable and very rugby specific. There are a lot of new players and we are all buying into the same thing and learning a lot about each other whilst gelling on and off the field.” Rawling told the Official Knights website, http://www.drfc.co.uk.
Dean Richards Falcon’s side will prove a stern test for The Knights as the club has earmarked its ambition to return to the Aviva Premiership at the first time of asking following their relegation after some 17 years in the top flight.
“Newcastle will be a solid first test, which is exactly what we need as the Championship is a very hard league; these types of test highlight what we do well and areas for improvement against a side sure to be running at the top end of the league,” Rawling continued.
“We have three pre-season games to learn a lot about each other and where we are as a team as there is no substitute for game time.
“These early opportunities to play top sides should hopefully mean we can hit the ground running against Plymouth in the first league game of the season.”
The 20-year-old stated his optimism regarding his sides summer preparations, suggesting the ‘heavy ground work’ already put in place will aid Doncaster as they prepare to face a tough league campaign this term.
“A strong start is extremely important. If we get out of the blocks quickly we can do really well and, with any luck, achieve our aim of a top four finish and, after that, who knows – anything can happen.
Doncaster’s Director of Rugby, Brett Davey, also told the DK’s official website: “Continuous improvement across our three pre-season games is a priority, which with any luck will allow us to hit the ground running and pick up as many points as possible in September.
“We are looking to see which players can be leaders on the pitch and also try and get all the players playing our brand of rugby.
“This weekend’s match will give us a basis for analysis so we can identify the faults in our performance and put them right, whilst also giving us the opportunity to pitch ourselves against Newcastle prior to our league encounter in September.
“The character of the players in testing situations during the game is what I am looking for more than anything else.
“We know they have ability; they wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
“I don’t expect a perfect performance. I do however expect us to give a good account of ourselves.
“There is a wave of optimism in the group recently. There has been day’s when training hasn’t been great, but everyone is finding out what each other can do.”
The Doncaster Knights kick off their 2012 campaign against Plymouth Albion on the 1st of September at The Brickfields.