Rovers boss: Our challenge is to back it up every week

Rovers coach Jon Sharp.
Rovers coach Jon Sharp.

JON Sharp says Featherstone need to keep their feet firmly on the ground after an excellent start to their Kingstone Press Championship campaign.

Featherstone are joint leaders with Hull KR after winning their first four games but head coach Sharp says there is still a long way ago to clinch a top-four place.

“I think the challenge for us now is consistency, just backing it up every week,” he said.

“The challenge is picking the right team and we are also challenging the players to keep up their own form and not fall in love with themselves because we’ve won four games.

“We need to probably win another 13 to finish in the top four so there’s still a long way to go.”

Sharp expects another tough test in Sunday’s home game against newly-promoted Rochdale Hornets who trounced Dewsbury 46-0, won 22-14 at Bradford Bulls and were pipped 28-18 by Hull KR before losing 20-6 to Halifax last weekend.

“Rochdale beat Bradford and challenged Hull KR so they’ve earned the right to be respected. What a good job the coach (Alan Kilshaw) has done there,” added Sharp.

“I’m waiting for the day when I can just sit back and enjoy the game but every match is a battle and a challenge. All four games so far have been really testing.”

Sharp believes Featherstone will perform far better when the weather and surfaces improve but he is delighted with the way they have coped with difficult conditions in their first four outings.

“All the pitches are looking heavy and I think that’s the story across the country,” he said.

“We are desperate for a dry track and a firm surface.

“We’ve got pace on the edges and forwards who are quick and athletic. At the minute we just seem to be waded down in the mud.

“I’m really pleased with the attitude and the application we’ve shown. The form from the team as a whole has been excellent.”

Featherstone have no injury concerns apart from Brad Tagg who will be sidelined for at least two weeks after he sustained an ankle ligament injury at Swinton last Sunday.

Misi Taulapapa is again set to be missing because of a visa issue but James Lockwood is available this weekend after completing a two-year drug ban today.

Former Dewsbury forward Lockwood has been training with Rovers after rejoining the club.

“We plan to involve Lockwood this week,” said Sharp who will again select a team best suited for the conditions and opposition this weekend.

He was pleased how the selection of four big forwards on the bench paid off in the victory at Swinton.

“Against Swinton. we picked a team based around what we thought the opposition might struggle with and also the conditions and this week will be no different,” he added.

“We’ll pick a team according to what we think will be the team to beat Rochdale.

“We were very good under the circumstances against Swinton. In the first-half, we were playing into a strong wind and we were heavily penalised.

“After about 35 minutes, we started to get a bit of field position and started to dominate up the middle.

“I thought our bench players Anthony Mullally, Richard Moore, Brett Dellaney and Frankie Mariano gave us a lift when they came on.

“I went with a big bench because of the conditions. Swinton are not a big team up the middle and that’s where I wanted to take them on and it started to pay off after about half an hour. Swinton threw a lot at us. They had a lot of field position and a lot of ball in our half. They tested us but I thought on the whole we dealt with it pretty well and also we play right to the end. Our last minute try last Sunday has been something of a theme for us. Scoring late on shows we are physically and mentally tough.”

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