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Academy Preview | Jack Townend

Doncaster Knights Senior Academy are setting up for their first game post-COVID this Wednesday night as they travel to Sheffield University.

This year’s captain, back-rower Jack Townend, has spent pre-season with the Knights first team and is hopeful that he will be able to bring some of that experience back to the Academy set-up, to the betterment of the side.

“Being with the first team was a ridiculously good environment to be in, and obviously that is ultimately what all the boys in the Academy want to do. So the group of us that have been with the first team have tried to bring back as much information and knowledge that we’ve picked up as we can and put that into making our environment better.

“It’s been really good. The pre-season the Academy have had has mirrored that of the first team, so it’s been really easy for us to then drop in and hit the ground running.

“There’s a lot of new lads that have come in as well as, because of COVID, we missed out on a full year of new students, so this has been the first time we’re really all together. So, it’s hard to get everyone up to scratch with how we play and how we do things but I think it’s been going pretty well.”

The side will face a double-barrelled test this week as they move into a new division, the BUCS Rugby Premier Division Two, and come up against Sheffield University. Since its launch in 2015, the Academy has been coached by a number of ex-Knights players, something which Jack believes is of great benefit to the players.

“The coaches are really good at putting us right and ensuring we play in the way that we want to. With having Tyson [Lewis] who has so many caps, then Listy [Richard List] and Kendo [Glen Kenworthy], they’re setting us up in the best way possible.

“We’ve been doing lots of contact conditioning preparation to get our bodies ready because we’ve had a bit of an injury crisis already, straight off the bat. So, we’re getting ready after not being doing everything for so long.

“We’re looking pretty much at full strength with a couple of boys that have only just missed out, so we should be prepared to hit the ground running.”

The main aim of Wednesday night will of course be an Academy victory, however, the squad are regimented in their determination to ensure they don’t get hung up on any one game and are ready to push on for the whole season, perhaps continuing the tradition of promotion.

“I’m really confident – I feel like we should be pushing right up there and looking at getting promoted again, fingers crossed. The aim is for us to eventually play in Super BUCS, and we’re two divisions away from that now.

“All we want to do is just to improve every week. If we can do that, then we’ll be setting ourselves up to have a really good year. Tyson’s really good at telling us just to take everything one week at a time, to make sure that we’re prepared and mentally set to each week, and then after that week we’ll move on to the next to continue to graft and work as hard as we can to achieve our goals.”

The Knights Academy will kick off at 5pm against Sheffield University at Norton Sports Park tomorrow [Wednesday] evening.

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