THEY remain winless at the bottom of the Championship but Yorkshire Carnegie’s Pete Lucock still expects Rotherham Titans to be their “toughest” challenge yet.
The derby rivals meet at Emerald Headingley tomorrow with Carnegie seeking to build on last week’s much-needed 20-10 victory in Jersey.
Rotherham, though, are in dire straits after a tenth straight league loss suffered in agonising circumstances.
Titans were on course for their first Championship success of the campaign only to then lose against relegation rivals London Scottish in the TENTH minute of injury-time a week ago.
But Lucock, who continues for Carnegie as a makeshift fly-half, admitted: “I think we’re going to face a completely different Rotherham. They will want to come here and turn us over. It will probably be our toughest game yet as I think every team feels like they can beat us this year compared to other years.
“We’re expecting a really tough task and Rotherham will be desperate for that first victory.
They will want to come here and turn us over. We’re expecting a really tough task and Rotherham will be desperate for that first victory.Yorkshire Carnegie’s Pete Lucock
“They have to win now especially with teams around them winning so we know they’ll be ready for this but I’m sure we can do the job.”
Lucock, who turned 25 earlier this week, briefly worked with Rotherham boss Andy Key who was director of rugby at Carnegie between 2008 and 2011.
“I was in the Academy still so only had bits to do with him,” he said, about the ex-Leicester Tigers backs coach.
“He’s under pressure now but Rotherham are a really good club. They’ve been unlucky with injuries, a few signings and money wise but it’d be a shame to see them go down.”
On his own form, having switched recently from centre due to injuries to the club’s fly-halves, Lucock said: “I still have lot to learn at 10 but every game I’m getting a bit more confident there.
“I don’t want it to be a full-time thing but for the time being I’m quite happy slotting in there.
“I’d only ever played there maybe when I was about 12 years old but it’s a completely different game compared to then.
“I’ve definitely enjoyed it but looking forward to getting back in the midfield.”
Carnegie are still without fly-halves Alex Davies (wrist) and Calum Irvine (ankle) as well as lock Dan Sanderson (back) and prop Michael Cusack (neck) for tomorrow’s fixture.
Full-back Stevie McColl has also been ruled out with a thigh problem suffered in the win at Jersey but he is replaced by Chris Elder, who missed that game with an ankle injury.
In another change, centre Andy Forsyth successfully made his return from injury last week off the bench in Jersey and he now starts with Fred Burdon reverting to the replacements.
The forward pack is unchanged and there is only one further alteration on the bench with Darren Atkins, a full-back or winger, set for his debut after joining from Bath on dual-registration this week.
Rotherham, who have not won at Headingley since 2014, make three changes to their XV. Lee Millar starts at full-back as Will Thomas moves to the wing and Drew Cheshire slides across into the centres.
Toby Williams is given the nod at loosehead ahead of namesake Tom and Matt Postlethwaite comes in at second-row as Adam Peters moves to No 8 in place of Tom Burns.
Doncaster Knights are the latest side charged with trying to end leaders Bristol’s 100 per cent winning record this term when they host Pat Lam’s side at Castle Park this afternoon.
The South Yorkshire club make seven changes after last week’s loss against Ealing with the welcome return of influential centre Mat Clark for his first Doncaster appearance of the season after injury.
Ex-Rotherham captain Will Owen also returns to the midfield, winger Tyson Lewis is recalled and Michael Heaney and Simon Humberstone come in as the starting half-backs.
Richard List and Ben Hunter return to the front-row while on the bench lock Adam Batt could make his Knights debut.
The Aucklander, 23, has been drafted in due to more injuries and last played for Dungannon Rugby Club in Northern Ireland.