Rotherham Titans are keen to get their 2017/18 Greene King IPA Championship season underway when they entertain Nottingham Rugby at Clifton Lane on Sunday; kick-off 2pm.
Following a summer of change, Titans have recruited a new coaching line-up which includes former Yorkshire Carnegie Director of Rugby Andy Key as their head coach and former Nottingham and London Irish second rower Nic Rouse as forwards coach.
This combined with 18 new faces on the playing side and the Titans certainly have a fresh look about them on and off the field and following the disappointment of last season, where the Titans finished eleventh in the Championship, they will be hoping for a change in fortunes this time around.
Titans rounded off their pre-season campaign last week with a hard-fought victory away at National One side Coventry, where they showed promising signs of a squad starting to gel and they will be expecting a further step forward this week when they take on near-neighbours Nottingham.
Going into the game Rotherham have 8 new faces in their starting XV which includes in the backs, centre Luke Peters from Ealing Trailfinders and scrum half Rhodri Davies from Welsh side Llandovery.
Whilst in the pack notable additions are tight head prop Matt Shields from Premiership side Harlequins and currently serving British Army soldier and back rower, Ifereimi Boladau from London Scottish.
Speaking ahead of his first competitive game in charge of Rotherham, Andy Key explained, “We are looking forward to the Nottingham game; we’ve had a long pre-season and we are now excited to get down to the business of Championship rugby. We have a new coaching staff in place and two thirds of a new playing squad, so the game will give us an idea of where we are with our planning and development.
“I think everybody has fitted in really well over the summer and I when you bring lots of personalities together you have a common goal to perform to the highest level you can achieve. We are very focused on what we are trying to do and there’s a clear vision of where we want to be.
“I think Nottingham are a little more stable than us in the sense of the players they’ve retained from last year.
“Ian Costello has come in from Munster and has done a superb job. I’ve seen a couple of their games and they seem to be very structured, very organised and there’s a clear intent of what there trying to do and we will give them our fullest respect.”
Titans: 15 Will Thomas, 14 Yiannis Loizias, 13 Luke Peters, 12 Joe Barker, 11 Drew Cheshire, 10 Lee Millar, 9 Rhodri Davies, 1 Toby Williams, 2 Luke Cole, 3 Matt Shields, 4 Rob Louw, 5 Byron Hodge, 6 Dan Grange, 7 Tom Calladine (Capt.), 8 Ifereimi Boladau.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Tom Williams, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 James Lasis, 20 Tom Burns, 21 Francisco Vieira, 22 Jake Henry.