FEATHERSTONE Rovers have been given a huge boost ahead of tonight’s Northern Rail Cup quarterfinal at Keighley Cougars with news that key player Andy Kain has signed a new deal.
Former Castleford Tigers stand-off Kain (pictured) has agreed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Bigfellas Stadium until at least the end of the 2014 season.
The 26-year-old has again been in outstanding form this season. He scored his 100th career try with the second his four touchdowns in last Sunday’s 60-18 win over Dewsbury Rams.
Rovers coach Daryl Powell is delighted Kain is staying at the club.
“While I’ve been at Featherstone, Andy has been one of our best players every season. He’s not the biggest player but he’s quick and he’s an intelligent player who reads things really well and his pace troubles defences,” he said.
“I am absolutely delighted that one of the key people in our team has agreed to stay for a further two years.
“We’ve got quality in our team in people like Liam Finn who is a smart operator and Andy Kain gives us the edge in pace that every team needs.
“I think Andy is superb at number six and I like to see him in at nine as well so there’s always that option.
“He’s got a lot going for him as a rugby player and we are delighted he’s take up the offer of an extended contract.”
Kain said: “I’m happy to be extending my contract by a further two years.
“I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve had at Featherstone up to now and I think the club is going in the right direction. I’m looking forward to being part of the future and helping the club meet its objectives with what I do on the field.”
Rovers chief executive Craig Poskitt said: “Andy is a constant performer on the field and thoroughly deserves this new contract. The squad for 2013 is already taking shape and shows the forward planning mentality of the club.”
Featherstone, who are aiming to reach the Northern Rail Cup final for the first time, will be hoping for another match-winning display from Kain against Keighley tonight.
Powell believes his side will need to be at their best if they are to repeat their 22-12 victory at Cougar Park in their opening league game in March.
“Keighley is a tough place to visit and we are expecting a difficult game. We are not going there half-hearted. it’s got to be full on,” he said.
“Keighley are pretty strong when you look at the quality players they’ve signed. They got people like Jason Demetriou who is obviously pretty experienced and also Sam Obst and Michael Korkidas so it’s going to be a tough challenge but for us it’s about getting our game right and focusing on each match as it comes.
“It’s a one-off game so there are no second chances. It’s a crucial match for us. We obviously recognise that the Northern Rail Cup is important and we want to do well in the competition so we’ll need to play well.
“We are looking forward to it. The way we are playing at the moment we are getting better every week.
“It should be a good quality game and we always look forward to being on Premier TV which has been good for rugby league and the Championship this year.”
Anthony England is set to return after completing a one-match suspension.
Rovers have also extended the loan period of Wakefield hooker Andy Ellis for another month.
Powell believes competition for places in helping to bring the best out of his players.
“Andy Ellis has been solid for us and I think Ben Kaye has responded to Andy coming to the club and his performances have been outstanding,” he said.
“I am pleased with the options we’ve got at hooker. We’ve got good quality players across every position and competition for places.
“I think that competition has gained a real edge for us over the last few weeks.
“When you’ve got someone pressing for your place, it’s important you on are you game because if you’re not the following week you’ll probably be left out and no one wants that. All the players want to be playing every week for different reasons.”
Powell is happy with the way Featherstone have bounced back from heavy home league defeats against Sheffield and Halifax when they conceded 60 points in both games.
He said: “It was a tough period for us and we had to fight our way through it and I think we’ve done that and stabilised.
“I think we were outstanding both with and without the ball against Dewsbury last Sunday.
“I think there are still a few areas we can develop and tweak but we would have to be happy with what we were able to deliver as a team for pretty much the entire 80 minutes.
“I thought our pack was outstanding last weekend. Our four props were superb and our back rowers were also pretty strong.
“We’ve won our last four league games, starting with the away game at Batley which was always going to be tough.
“I think it’s been a really good effort from us but there’s no sitting back. We’ve got some tough challenges coming up and we know we are going to gave to continue to improve to get where we want to be.”
Rovers are without Nathan Chappell who scored six tries in three appearances after recently making his comeback from major knee surgery.
Powell said: “Nathan is having trouble with his knees. I don’t know whether he’s come back too soon but he’s struggling a bit at the moment so he’s got to get himself through it and build his legs up and come back when he’s feeling 100 per cent. He is not quite there at the moment.
“I think he’s probably put a fair bit of pressure on his other knee because of his injury.
“He started off really well but then dipped a little bit but that’s to be expected when someone comes back from a long-term injury so we’ve just need to build him up and get him back out there feeling comfortable with his knees.”
Samaon international centre Tangi Ropati is set to return to action next month after recovering from a broken jaw and Kyle Briggs is also on the road to recovery following a recent shoulder operation.
Powell said: “Tangi has started training again. He’s working hard and he’s getting a bit more food into body which is helping him so he’s looking a lot better and hopefully by the middle of July he will be available to come back into the team. It will be like having a new player which will be great for us
“Kyle Briggs has had an operation and will be out for three months so there is probably some potential that he may be available towards the back end of the season.”
The Rovers clubhouse will be open this evening to show the game against Keighley on the big screen. The bar will open from 6.30pm and there will be special drink offers.
Featherstone’s next fans form, which was originally scheduled for next Thursday, has now been re-arranged for Tuesday, June 26, in the Atrium Bar (7pm start).
Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are C Shaw (A3557), G Keeley (P1824), W Killen (A4164), M Bell (J2008), M Gibbon (A3843). £5 consolation prizes: C Bilton (W4741), T Dransfield (W4334), M Jeffrey (V4841), J Kerr