Rovers coach: We need to stay focused

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "We always treat Whitehaven with respect because we think they are a really good team who are well coached."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "We always treat Whitehaven with respect because we think they are a really good team who are well coached."

Featherstone coach Jon Sharp has described Sunday’s home game against Whitehaven as “absolutely crucial” in his side’s bid for a Championship top-four place.

Rovers have slipped to sixth place but they are only two points adfrift of Bradford Bulls who climbed to fourth with Wednesday night’s win at Oldham.

“I think there are some more twists and turns to come before the end of the year,” said Sharp who will not underestimate this weekend’s opponents.

Rovers won 44-22 at Whitehaven last month but the Cumbrians have produced some excellent performances this year and they pulled off a shock 29-0 win at Big Fellas Stadium last season.

“I think Whitehaven have got a few extra blokes in there since we last played them,” added Sharp.

“We always treat Whitehaven with respect because we think they are a really good team who are well coached. James Coyle has done a good job with them.

“They played really well last weekend against Halifax who just managed to scrape a draw.

“We’ll have to be on our mettle this Sunday. It’s an absolutely crucial game for us.

“We’ve just got to stay healthy and stay focused. We need to keep calm as well - I think that’s really important.

“We don’t want to spend too much time looking at the league table and thinking about what other teams are doing. I think it’s really important we concentrate on our own job.”

Sharp was delighted with Featherstone’s performance in the 16-12 defeat at Leigh.

“I was really pleased with large parts of the game. I thought we were individually superb,” he said.

“There were maybe two or three errors that proved costly to us and that’s how tight it was. It was a really good match. It was probably the closest I’ve seen to a Super League game for intensity and speed.

“We were unfortunate not to come away with something but the signs are really encouraging.”

Sunday’s performance was another indication of Featherstone’s improvement since last season when they suffered three heavy defeats against Leigh, losing 40-6, 31-12 and 52-18.

Sharp, who has now been in charge at Featherstone for nearly 12 months, is pleased with the progress.

He said: “From where the club has been at for the last few years to where it is now, it can look forward to a bright future because I think we are heading in the right direction.

“We have taken a real leap forward but we have to keep going and keep pushing to get a bit more out because I’m not satisfied with getting beaten at Leigh. It’s not good enough for me and it shouldn’t be for the players.

“I want us to go to places like Leigh and hope to win and expect to put in a good performance. When that happens, the mindset of the club has changed which is part of my job.

“I’m massively pleased with the way things have gone in such a short space of time. I’ve been pleased with the recruitment. The new players who have come in have been outstanding and I’ve been pleased with the majority of things really. It’s work in progress. We are not there yet but I think we’ve taken a big leap forward.”