Shining Knights set for Maori clash

RIGHT AT THE FRONT: Knights prop Tom Davies will be in the Championship XV squad to meet the Maori All Blacks at Castle Park this weekend.
RIGHT AT THE FRONT: Knights prop Tom Davies will be in the Championship XV squad to meet the Maori All Blacks at Castle Park this weekend.

TWO Knights will defend Castle Park when the Maori All Blacks invade on Saturday.

Prop Tom Davies and versatile back Dante Mama have been selected for the Championship XV by coach Mike Rayer of Bedford Blues.

The Doncaster pair will join players from across English rugby’s second tier to take on the touring Maori side in Saturday’s 12.05pm kick off.

And Knights director of rugby Brett Davey has backed the two to shine.

He said: “Dante has been excellent since he came to us in the summer and Tom has been one of our most consistent players over the last couple of years.

“I’m delighted for them that they have this chance to show what they can do.”

Castle Park chiefs are expecting a crowd of over 3,000 for this weekend’s showcase fixture, which will also be televised live on Sky Sports.

Head coach Rayer was required to select at least one player from each Championship side but opted for two from the Knights.

Free running Mama has impressed greatly since his summer arrival from Leicester Tigers, playing a part in every competitive game this season.

And loose head Davies has been a permanent fixture in the Knights front row since returning from Cardiff Blues two years ago.

Rayer was delighted to receive the opportunity to coach the Championship’s elite.

He said: “I think it’s a great opportunity.

“Myself, Ian and Diccon have been in this division for a while now, as have a lot of the players.

“It’s proven as a development pathway; there are a few guys in the England squad who have passed through the RFU Championship at some stage in some form.

“I’m a big supporter of the RFU Championship and what it’s done for player development.

“There are some guys who have done really well in the RFU Championship and have been around this division for a number of years.

“It’s important that you have that blend of more experienced guys guiding the young enthusiastic players around the pitch.

“There are some really exciting looking backs in the squad as well.

“I’m really excited by the potential centre partnership, and what we have out wide. It’s a good mix.”

This weekend’s visitors to Castle Park will not need to be encouraged to make some noise.

The touring Maori All Blacks have arrived and are ready to unleash the haka in front of a bumper crowd at the home of Doncaster Knights.

And the Maoris will be determined to strike fear in the hearts of their Championship XV opponents after opening their tour with a 32-24 defeat to Premiership outfit Leicester Tigers.

Championship XV squad: Luke Baldwin, Josh Bassett, Jake Sharp (all Bedford); Alan Paver, Phil Burgess, Gavin Cattle (all Cornish Pirates); Nic Rouse, Tim Streather, Rhys Crane (all Nottingham); Ben Pienaar, Charlie Hayter (both Moseley); Tom Davies, Dante Mama (both Doncaster); Tristian Roberts, Jack Tovey (both Bristol); Dan Baines (Rotherham); Jacob Rowan, Calum Green (both Leeds); Nathan Hannay (Jersey); Mark Irish (London Scottish); Oliver Tomaszczyk, Richard Mayhew (both Newcastle); Jon Vickers (Plymouth).

Tickets for the Championship XV v Maori All Blacks clash are priced from £5 adults, £1 children and are available by calling (01302) 831388.