Briggs boost for Featherstone

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FEATHERSTONE have been given a double boost with news that Kyle Briggs and Jon Hepworth (pictured) could shortly be back in action.

Briggs, signed on a season-long loan from Bradford Bulls, has been out for three months following a shoulder operation and Hepworth has missed the last six matches with a back injury.

Samoan international Tangi Ropati may also make his first-team comeback in tomorrow night’s Co-operative Championship game at York but prop Mick Haley is likely to miss the rest of the season after sustaining a broken foot in last Sunday’s 21-12 defeat against Halifax in the Northern Rail Cup final at Blackpool.

Rovers coach Daryl Powell is pleased Briggs and Hepworth will soon be available again.

“Out of the depths of gloom we have some reasons to be positive and it will give us more options in key positions,” he said.

“Obviously, Andy Ellis going back to Wakefield didn’t help us, with Briggs and Hepworth both being out. We’ve been stripped of options a little bit with what has happened to us. It’s been a bit of a strange season, with people getting injured and Danny Grimshaw leaving and us then getting a loan player who went back.”

Hepworth had an injection on Friday to ease pain in a disc in his back.

Said Powell: “From what we see initially, the injection has has been a success and hopefully Jon will be available in the not too distant future. We are waiting to speak to his specialist and then we’ll have an indication of what the possible time scales will be.

“Kyle Briggs has just got the go ahead to play. It’s really positive news for us and it gives us an opportunity, hopefully, to get Kyle back in the team.

“I need to have a chat with Kyle. We’ve got a reserves game on Thursday night that he could potentially play in but we’ll wait and see.”

Ropati has played in Featherstone’s last two reserves matches after being sidelined for three months with a broken jaw.

“I think Tangi will be available for us this week,” added Powell

“I need to have a chat with him and see where he’s at in his head and then we’ll take it from there. There is a possibility he could play at York on Friday.”

Rovers have suffered a blow with the loss of Haley who was injured shortly before half-time in Sunday’s cup final and took no further part in the game.

Powell felt Haley’s injury was a factor in Featherstone’s defeat.

“Mick has broken his foot and is probably going to be out for the rest of the season. I don’t think we will see Mick again this year,” he said.

“It never helps in a match when you lose one of your props. It cuts down on your rotations and Halifax did get over the top of our forwards and I think that was the key part of the battle we lost.”