Hooker Harry Allen has proved to be one of Doncaster Knights best summer signings.
The former England U16 international, who played for London Welsh last season and helped them win the B&I Cup for the first time, has often got the nod over Ben Hunter, included in the Championship team of the year last season.
“I was confident that I could get into the team but I worked really hard on my fitness during the summer because I knew that I would have to play well because Ben is a very good player,” said Allen.
Despite the two men having battled for the No 2 shirt all season, Allen says there is never any ill feeling between them.
“Obviously we both want to start and we are competitive in that sense and are always testing each other in training and the best man that week plays,” he said.
“In some teams that situation can be a bit awkward but Ben’s a good lad and we’ve got a good relationship and that’s nice.”
Playing regularly has helped convince Allen that he made the right decision to move up to South Yorkshire where he enjoys the fact that he can be at Castle Park for training within ten minutes or so of leaving home – something unheard of during his time playing in the capital.
“London Welsh have had financial problems for years and we all knew they were struggling and that there were problems behind the scenes, but it never affected the players until last season when we got paid late and it did affect morale,” he said.
“We started the season well, beating Doncaster at Castle Park on the opening day, but we seemed to lose our way midway through the campaign.
“When it became obvious that we were unlikely to make the top four, as a team, we decided to have a go at the B&I Cup after sneaking into the quarter-finals.”
Allen, who looks forward to avenging a 14-10 defeat at Old Deer Park, is pleased that the club have been saved but says: “They’ve lost quite a few players and have gone part-time and I think they are going to struggle.”
Knights turn their focus to the B&I Cup this weekend with the first of two back-to-back games against Munster A.
“During our analysis in the build-up to the Rotherham game on Boxing Day we saw a lot of Munster A because they played them twice in the B&I Cup last month, so we know a fair bit about them. They are very direct and like to play at a good tempo and we respect that and have taken those things into our preparation.
“We’ll be looking to bully them at the set-piece, front up in defence and get our attack going. If we can do all those things I think we’ll edge it in the two games against them.”