Rovers coach: Real work starts this weekend

Ian Hardman is set to return for Sunday's game. Picture: Bob Nunn.
Ian Hardman is set to return for Sunday's game. Picture: Bob Nunn.
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Coach John Bastian is happy with a tough start to Featherstone’s Kingstone Press Championship campaign.

Rovers, who have impressed in four pre-season wins, visit Dewsbury Rams in the opening fixture on Sunday and then host Halifax at Big Fellas Stadium the following weekend.

“We are happy with that. Part of our pre-season programme has helped condition the players to having hard games,” said Bastian.

“We are the sort of team that values defence as much as offence and we are certainly conditioned to having a hard game, week in week out and to be prepared to put in the energy as well, which is important to us.

“We are pleased with the pre-season form but we are just as pleased with the effort and commitment we have put in on the practice field and the strength and conditioning side of things.

“We’ve really worked hard in that area and we have done some great stuff on the field as well defensively and offensively against some good teams, but the real work stands this weekend.

“We want to start on the front foot and Dewsbury will provide us with a great challenge.”

“Dewsbury have done well in their pre-season games and they know how to play that pitch but it’s certainly a place we are looking forward to going to and we are looking forward to putting in a big performance as well.

“It’s a tight pitch and I’m sure there will be a lot going on through the middle.”

Bastian could have selection posers for Sunday’s game after numerous players impressed in the pre-season victories over Hull FC, Wakefield, Halifax and Hunslet when Rovers scored a total of 134 points and conceded just 26.

“You want a strong, competitive squad,” he added.

“There will be disappointments - you always get that with a big squad. What is really important is how those players that don’t get selected respond and react going into the following weeks.”

Ian Hardman is set to be available after missing the pre-season game against Hull FC with a rib injury.

Colton Roche has been rated 50-50.

Bastian said: “Colton got a bang on his eye socket against Halifax. He had some swelling and bruising to his face so we’ll monitor that and we’ll speak to the medical people and make a decision on him this weekend.”

Andy Kain (groin) and Kyle Briggs (knee) are close to returning after missing all the pre-season matches and Tongan international centre or winger Etuate Uaisele is set to arrive in Featherstone shortly.

“Andy Kain is still in rehab but he is getting better week by week so he’s not going to be far off,” said Bastian.

“Kyle Briggs wasn’t far off against Hull FC.

“I think Etuate Uaisele has had his visa confirmed so we are hoping this weekend he’ll be on a plane over here.”

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