YORKSHIRE Carnegie’s young full-back Taylor Prell will be thrust into what he describes as one of the club’s biggest games of the season tomorrow.
It is, of course, the Championship encounter with Broad Acres rivals Rotherham Titans at Headingley, 80 minutes that could say plenty about each side’s potential for making the top-four play-offs at the end of the campaign.
Carnegie have lost their previous three league games to fall off leaders Bristol’s shoulders and drop to third behind Doncaster Knights although, encouragingly, they have won their last two matches with back-to-back victories over London Scottish in the British & Irish Cup.
Rotherham, on the other hand, are looking for a first win in five matches having really struggled of late, losing twice in tight circumstances to Moseley in the B&I Cup having beforehand slipped up against Scottish and, most surprisingly, at home to Jersey in the league.
Mark Jones’ side – play-off semi-finalists in both the last two seasons under Lee Blackett – are down to seventh yet do remain just five points adrift of the top four.
Prell, 19, hopes to add more misery to the South Yorkshire side and admits those consecutive victories over Scottish have been crucial in rebuilding Carnegie’s own confidence.
“It’s great to have done that,” he said, having scored a try and won man-of-the-match in the 56-7 win at Scarborough but being rested last week due to his England Under-20s training commitments.
“We’ve been working really hard in training to get things right and it is finally starting to pay off.
“Rotherham on Sunday is a massive match for us. It’s a derby, for starters, and you can’t beat that.
“It will probably be one of the biggest games we’ll play this season.
“They have had a few defeats recently but they have decent players and we know how tough it’s going to be.
“We’re relishing this game, though, and need to pick up another win and get that bit closer to Doncaster. We want to catch them up and keep working towards the top.”
Prell, who hails from Gargrave and played his junior rugby at Wharfedale, added: “I’ve only ever played Rotherham once before and that was in the B&I Cup last season on my debut.
“It was heated – these games always are – but I’ve not played them in the Championship yet so I’m looking forward to doing that.
“But there’s loads of people competing for places at the moment at full-back and wing – Seb (Stegmann), Doc (David Doherty) and Jonah (Holmes) all played last week and went well – so it’s good to be in but I’ve got to keep working hard as competition is so tough.”
A dynamic presence at 15, Prell is certainly making advances in senior rugby; he made six appearances during his debut campaign last term, when he was also loaned back to Wharfedale, but he has already equalled that figure by this season’s halfway point.
Equally at home at full-back or on the wing, he said: “I am enjoying my rugby at the moment.
“It’s good and there’s loads of experienced players I can learn from here.
“Obviously I’ve not reached my full potential or anything – that will come with time – but I’ve played a few Championship games now so have a bit of an edge over some of the younger lads who have just started.”
In-form Carnegie N08 Ryan Burrows makes his 100th start for the club against the side he signed from in 2011.
Meanwhile, Doncaster, with director of rugby Clive Griffiths having signed a new two-year deal earlier this week, will look to go 10 games unbeaten when they host Nottingham this afternoon.
They could replace Bristol in top spot given their rivals are not in action until they host London Welsh tomorrow.