Yorkshire Carnegie head to Scarborough this Friday night looking to kick-start their season against fierce rivals Rotherham Titans in the British and Irish Cup.
Carnegie reached the final of the competition that pits the second tier of teams from England, Wales and Ireland together but they face a major challenge in their opening game of this season’s competition.
Yorkshire have lost three of their opening five games in the Greene King IPA Championship but the distraction of the cup may come as a welcome break for Gary Mercer’s team as they look to give their early season form a boost.
Mercer, a former New Zealand rugby league international, only joined the club a fortnight before the start of the new season having spent a decade in Rugby Union in Scotland after a successful career as a player and coach in the thirteen man game.
He is looking to build on last season’s fast, attractive brand of rugby and take the next step for promotion back to the top flight.
The club made nine new signings during the summer including former England international Chris Jones, who has signed from Worcester having previously won the Premiership with Sale Sharks. He is joined in the move from the Warriors with Jon Clarke and Harry Casson, who both played for Carnegie last season on loan but have made a permanent switch now.
Full-back David McIlwaine has returned to Yorkshire, having previously played at Doncaster, after a spell with Ulster, while prop James Tideswell has rejected the chance to go into the top flight with London Welsh to take up the challenge with Yorkshire Carnegie.
Hooker Ollie Hayes joins from title rivals Bristol while Carnegie have made a double swoop on Newcastle Falcons with the capture of scrum-half Chris Pilgrim and centre James Fitzpatrick from the Premiership outfit.
Finally, highly-rated young English fly-half Harry Leonard has joined from Edinburgh.
They were joined last week by full-back Jonah Holmes, who returns to the club from London Wasps.
He spent last season on loan at Headingley Carnegie and finished as top try scorer but was recalled to the Aviva Premiership club during the summer.
However, an injury crisis at fly-half for Wasps created the opportunity for Holmes to return north with Glyn Hughes making the opposite journey.
Yorkshire Carnegie started the season well with a good win down at Cornish Pirates but defeat to promotion rivals Bristol followed in the first home game of the season.
Birmingham-based Moseley were beaten the following week before back to back defeats to Doncaster and Nottingham completed a tough start to the campaign.