DAVID DOHERTY defies anyone who says “there’s nothing to play for” in Yorkshire Carnegie’s final game of a mixed season.
The experienced winger hopes to recover from a heel injury in time to face former club Cornish Pirates at Headingley tomorrow.
Sixth-placed Carnegie cannot make the play-offs and can only rise one spot to fifth while only a huge defeat against Pirates will see them usurp Bryan Redpath’s team from their current slot in the Championship table.
Doherty was top scorer for Cornish with 14 tries during his sole season with the club in 2011-201.
“My best memory is of turning over Bristol in the play-offs,” he recalled.
“That was brilliant for us as they were massive favourites that year.
“A lot of the Cornish Pirates teams thrive on being underdogs and we are wary of them coming up here in the final match with some people thinking there’s nothing to play for.
“But I think there is a lot to play for; we have a new coach, new investment in the club here and some really exciting recruitment already announced for next season.
“It is a very exciting time for us and we’ll be looking to make sure we put our best foot forward in readiness for that.
“We came into training yesterday and everyone was bouncing. We’re disappointed the season is going to end and we’d love it to go on another couple of months to see where we’d get to.
“But what happened at the start has cost us and we know you don’t get a second opportunity at these things. That’s been the lesson.”
Carnegie have won three of their four games since Redpath took over last month after the club relieved Tommy McGee of duties.
The surge has come too late to gatecrash the top-four.
But, nevertheless, plans are crucially taking root for the 2015-16 so the mistakes of this term – initial head coach Gary Mercer not being appointed until a fortnight before kick-off – are not repeated again.
The club will use tomorrow’s game to mark the tenth anniversary of their finest hour – the 2005 Powergen Cup final win over Bath at Twickenham.
Players from that victorious side will be in attendance at the game, one which Doherty, 27, has mixed emotions about.
“I got man of the match in the semi,” he recalled, the then 18-year-old scoring a sensational try against London Irish.
“But I wasn’t actually able to play in the final as I was over in South Africa at the Junior World Championships. I’d have loved to have played at Twickenham but England Under-19s took precedent at the time.
“It was a real shame but it was great for the (Leeds) team to do what they did. We had a really solid side that year and there’s some great memories.”
Incidentally, in that England Under-19s side, captained by then Leeds No8 Jordan Crane, were Tykes team-mate Danny Care, Danny Cipriani, Dylan Hartley and Tom Youngs who all hope to feature in the senior World Cup this autumn.