Featherstone Rovers players reported back for pre-season training this week with head coach Jon Sharp confident he is putting together a squad that can improve on what they achieved in 2016.
Sharp still wants to add another couple of players, but he believes Rovers are heading in the right direction and will be capable of challenging every team in the Championship.
Featherstone are in talks to sign the players who will make up the final pieces of Sharp’s jigsaw, but in the meantime he will be putting the rest of the squad through their paces in a pre-season that will be longer than last year, but can stand them in good stead when the big kick-off comes round in February.
He told the Express: “We had our first session on Monday night and we had a tough session when everybody worked really hard.
“We had a meeting to start with as well and we had some good discussion about where we want to head. It was very, very positive.
“We’ve got the players back in two weeks earlier than last year and we’ve every intention of building on what we’ve done in 2016.
“We want to work the players harder because we think there’s still some improvement in us and we think we can be better than what we were last season.”
Sharp was pleased that all of his 22 first team squad members were able to take part in Monday’s first session, including long term injury victims Matty Wildie and Scott Turner,
He said: “It was a full deck and a really good first session.
“Matty Wildie took part in the full session and ran really well and Scott Turner took part in half of the session, which we were really pleased about – we didn’t want to overload him.
“Those two players that missed just about the entire season last year will be good to go for pre-season and for the start of the year.
“It’s massive to get a good pre-season in. You can’t underestimate the magnitude of it and the effect it has on your season.
“Kyle Briggs is a good example and a player who didn’t have a pre-season at all last year due to injury and one thing and another. He only just started to getting up to his best at the back end of the season because he missed that pre-season. He’d be the first to admit that missing pre-season had a big bearing on how he got on.”