Challenge Cup draw does Rovers ‘no favours’

Rovers coach Andy Hay: "It's not a good draw and it's made things a little bit more difficult."
Rovers coach Andy Hay: "It's not a good draw and it's made things a little bit more difficult."

Featherstone coach Andy Hay has described next month’s Challenge Cup sixth round tie at Catalans Dragons as “probably one of the worst draws we could have got.”

In addition to a long trek to France, Rovers have to re-arrange their Championship game at Bradford Bulls which was scheduled for May 17, the Challenge Cup weekend.

“The cup draw has not done us any favours,” said Hay.

“We have a trip to France to factor in and we’ve got to re-arrange the Bradford game for midweek because the league splits after July and there will no free weekends before then.

“It’s not a good draw and it’s made things a little bit more difficult. We’d have preferred to be at home to one of the bigger teams or a bigger team local away to bring some revenue into the club.

“We are a part-time team so we have got to arrange for players to take time off work for a journey to France. It’s going to be hot over there and it’s tough for visiting Super League teams never mind Championship sides. We’ll prepare well but it’s not ideal.”

After maintaining a perfect away record this season with back-to-back wins at Batley and North Wales Crusaders, Rovers are on the road again this Sunday at Whitehaven where they won 36-12 in the Challenge Cup last month.

“It’s going to be tough. Whitehaven have signed a couple of players so they will be a bit of an unknown from the last time we played them,” added Hay.

“They’ve got a couple of players on loan from Wigan as well so they will be a different proposition from when we went up there in the cup.

“We want to keep this momentum going. We are getting there and we showing glimpses but we need more consistency in our performances over the 80 minutes.”

Hay will check on Jamie Cording and Sam Irwin who missed last Sunday’s 38-12 cup win at Crusaders with arm injuries.

James Mendeika is available after major knee surgery and prop Paul Wood is set to return early next month after breaking a bone in his foot.

Hay said: “Irwin and Cording both have very similar arm injuries.

“Cording got an infection in his injury so he has been on antibiotics but he trained on Monday so I think it’s clearing up.

“We are a bit light on props. Mason Tonks played at prop at the weekend and showed glimpses of form and what he can do for us and hopefully he can kick on because we are light in that area.

“James Mendeika is just waiting for his opportunity. We are quite strong in the position he plays and some of the players have been performing very well. It’s a case of him waiting for his chance. He’s been out a long time and he’s a little bit behind some of the others.”