Rovers coach pleased with bye in play-offs

Jamie Cording has been out for three months with a knee injury. Picture: Bob Nunn.

Jamie Cording has been out for three months with a knee injury. Picture: Bob Nunn.

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Coach Andy Hay is happy Featherstone earned a week off by beating Halifax in last Sunday’s opening Championship play-off clash.

Rovers have a bye this weekend before hosting the highest-placed survivors - Halifax, Doncaster or Sheffield - in a qualifying semi-final at Big Fellas Stadium next Sunday (September 28) when the winners go through to the Grand Final.

It gives Hay an extra week to assess the fitness of Jamie Cording, Andy Bostock, Sam Smeaton and Liam Walmsley who have all been sidelined by injuries.

“It was good to get the win last Sunday. We get a week off and it gives us five or six training days into our next game,” said Hay.

“The players will be training at the weekend and we will to be preparing well for the next fixture. It gives us a chance not to be battered around for 80 minutes in another encounter. We can focus on our next play-off match and another home tie.”

Cording has returned to training after being out for three months with a knee injury and Hay will also check on Bostock (groin), Smeaton (hamstring) and Walmsley (arm).

“It’s a bonus that we’ve got an extra week to try to get players back,” added Hay.

“Jamie Cording did a bit of training with us last week so I’ll look at him this week. He’ll definitely need to be in full training by the weekend if he’s a chance of playing.

“Andy Bostock is still struggling with his groin. One day he’s all right and the next day he can’t move very well so we are just trying our best with it and hopefully we’ll see him before the end of the year.

“Sam Smeaton hurt his hamstring in training two weeks ago. He was training with the under 20s to play in one of their games. We are just waiting for him to get back fit.

“Liam Walmsley has an outside chance of being fit next week. He hasn’t played for a while and he needs to get back into training as well.

“I’ll have to make sure players are fully fit and ready to play before I throw them in.”

Hay is looking forward to welcoming back Matt Nicholson, Jack Ormondroyd and Luke Cooper for next season.

Prop Nicholson, signed on a two-year contract from York, has not played a competitive game for Rovers. He has missed the entire campaign after he sustained a serious knee ligament injury in a pre-season match against Halifax in January.

Youngsters Ormondroyd and Cooper went to Australia in April to gain valuable experience playing in the Sydney country league.

Hay said: “Matt hasn’t played all year after injuring his knee in a trial game. Everyone tells me he was looking good at the start.

“He’ll probably be back fit ready for pre-season. It’s been a tough year for him but he will be another player for us and for me.

“We’ve got Jack Ormondroyd and Luke Cooper to come back from Australia who are contracted to us and they will be like new players for me as well.

“I’ve heard some good things about them and they will back in October for the start of pre-season training.”