Leeds Carnegie now have a perfect fit at “ten” – according to captain Andy Titterrell.
In most people’s eyes, the role of orchestator-in-chief on the pitch – fly-half – is widely considered as the key one in the game, it’s not called “pivot” without good reason, is it?
Young talent Joe Ford remains first-choice in the Championship this term for Carnegie, but head coach Diccon Edwards elected to have a look at another option in Wednesday’s British and Irish Cup home victory over Rotherham Titans – in the shape of loan signing Tommy Bell.
Bell was recently brought in from Sale Sharks as part of Carnegie’s groundbreaking partnership with their trans-Pennine rivals, with the player following in the footsteps of his older brother, Chris, who was a cup winner with Leeds back in 2005 when he scored a try in the Powergen Cup Final win over Bath, in featuring for the Yorkshiremen in midweek.
And Titterrell insists Carnegie will reap the benefits from having two good first-team options at fly-half, with the burden of expectation to ease from the shoulders of Ford in the process.
The slings and arrows of sporting fortune have been encapsulated in Carnegie’s last two Championship games for Ford, who was in rueful mood after missing four penalties and a conversion in their 22-18 derby loss at Clifton Lane on September 11.
Seven days on and Ford was afforded the backslaps after his late drop goal gave Edwards his first victory as Carnegie chief as the hosts secured a priceless win over Bristol.
The young Lancastrian, son of England defence coach Mike, scored all of Leeds’ points in the 12-11 success, four penalties and a drop goal.
And Titterrell admits he was delighted for him.
He said: “Joe showed what happens if you keep trying and it was great to see him come good with his never-say-die attitude.
“Joe had a bad day against Rotherham. When you are a goalkicker, you need to be mentally strong and be prepared for games as that’s what you need at the top level.
“Joe is still learning, but he has got that and didn’t get himself down.
“Tommy Bell has also come in here on loan, so the pressure for Fordy to perform in back-to-back games isn’t there any more because we have got two competent “ten” and we have got ourselves covered. They are both good players and will be important for us this year.”
Meanwhile, Titterrell has added to the chorus of support for back-in-harness winger James Tincknell, who made his eagerly-awaited first-team return for Carnegie against Titans in midweek.
The Cumbrian played all 80 minutes in his comeback game, which saw the hosts triumph 17-3 and it was a special evening for the 23-year-old, who suffered life-threatening injuries in a horrific car crash back in February.
Ex-Wharfedale player Tincknell has acknowledged he may have to go out on loan to further step up his recovery, but for the time being, the three-quarter is just thrilled to be back doing his day job.
On an uplifting sporting story, Titterrell added: “It just goes to show what you get for putting all the work in.
“He had the accident and was away from the club for a while and given what happened to him, it’s a remarkable story.
“You have to give him massive respect for what he has put his body through to get back fit and you have to admire his strength of mind.
“We’ve seen a massive, massive transformation in the past couple of months with his speed, pace and power. He’s now back to where he was, pre-injury, by the looks of it and the guys behind the scenes are pleased with him.
“He’s had great support from all the lads. He’s back where he belongs and he can now put his hand up for (regular) selection in the first team.”