Featherstone coach Andy Hay regards Saturday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fourth round game at fellow Championship club Whitehaven (5.30 kick-off) as a welcome distraction from the league campaign.
Hay wants to ensure three-times Challenge Cup winners Featherstone are in the fifth round draw when Hull FC, Hull KR, Salford and Wakefield - the clubs who finished the 2014 Super League season in ninth to 12th positions - enter the competition.
Rovers have a tricky tie at Whitehaven who collected their first Championship points of the season with last Sunday’s 18-16 home victory over London Broncos.
“I’ve watched a bit of Whitehaven’s game against London and they played with a lot of enthusiasm and looked like they wanted it more than London did,” said Hay.
“They’ve got some threats and have some good players. It’s a tough place to go.
“It’s not the ideal draw but we’ve got to go up there and give a good account of ourselves and get into the hat for the next round.
“We’ll change things a bit this week in the way we go about things. The cup gives us a chance to come out of the league fixtures.
“We’ve been working hard since we got back into pre-season and focusing everything into the league. It’s now a week where we can look at the Challenge Cup as well and obviously Sunday is a massive game.
“It takes us away from worrying about getting the two points week in, week out and we can focus on this one-off match instead. It would nice to get through and hopefully have a home draw in the next round and see how far we can get. There are four Super League teams joining the competition in the next round.
“If we can win at Whitehaven, we’d like a decent team at home or Featherstone Lions if they can beat York which would be a great tie.”
Hooker Andy Ellis (dead leg) was Featherstone’s only casualty in last Sunday’s 40-6 defeat against Leigh.
Hay expects Ellis to be fit to face Whitehaven and he also hopes scrum-half Gareth Moore (shoulder) will be back after missing the Leigh match.
“Andy got a dead leg but he was much improved on Monday so we are hoping he will be right,” added Hay.
“He’s a pretty tough character and he doesn’t like missing many games so I will give him every chance and I’m sure he’ll come through.
“Everyone else came through Sunday’s game okay.
“We hope Gaz Moore will be back. He was at training on Monday night and did a little bit more.
“He would have been a risk against Leigh and if he’d had to come off it could have meant a lot of changes. I didn’t want to go into a game against a team like Leigh with someone half fit.”