`

Duffy: We are a totally different animal this season

Rovers coach John Duffy: "I think you can see when you watch us now that we are a totally different animal to when I first came in."  Picture: Matthew Merrick.
Rovers coach John Duffy: "I think you can see when you watch us now that we are a totally different animal to when I first came in." Picture: Matthew Merrick.

COACH John Duffy says Featherstone are a ‘different animal’ this season to the team he inherited when he took over the reins last July.

Former Swinton Lions boss Duffy was in charge of Rovers for the final eight matches last season after being appointed shortly before the start of the Super 8s.

“I think you can see when you watch us now that we are a totally different animal to when I first came in,” he said.

“Obviously we’ve got new personnel across the board as well so everyone is buying in at the minute.

“We worked really hard in the off-season and we wanted to change people’s perception of us.

“We are only in round two but hopefully we can see a different side to us in our defensive efforts and our quality.

“Our pack have been outstanding. They’ve really bought into how I want to play this year and they are really giving our pivots time to play.”

Duffy was delighted with Featherstone’s second-half display against Toulouse last Sunday after a shaky start to the game.

“I thought our start was poor,” he added.

“We had a huge, sloppy error in our first set and errors early on in defence as well.

“We regrouped at half-time and we spoke about keeping the aggression there and building on what we ended the first-half with and trying to be a bit more clinical.

“Our forwards stepped up and everyone was superb in our pack in the second-half and obviously it gave our backs a chance to play.

“We were clinical as well when we got the ball in the second-half.

“Overall, I was really happy. It was good to get one over on Toulouse because they did a number on us twice last year.

“I think Toulouse are a great team and they are really well coached.

“They throw the ball about and they’ve got some great players all across the park. Mark Kheirallah was outstanding for them again last Sunday.

“They have got quality everywhere and they’ve still got a couple of players out at the minute including Ford.

“They’ll be hard to beat so it’s a big result for us.”

Anthony Thackeray started at full-back last Sunday in place of captain Ian Hardman.

“We wanted to use Anthony’s speed a bit more plus Ian’s had his double hernia operation and he’s not done a full pre-season so we’ve got to be smart with him,” added Duffy.

“I thought Thacks dealt with some things really well and obviously we scored some good tries.

“He’s been relishing playing in his new position and obviously we’ve got competition everywhere for places so it’s good and healthy but it gives me a few selection headaches.

“We’ve got a good squad and everyone is chomping at the bit again in the side so every week I’ve got difficult selection decisions.”

Ash Handley became the first Leeds Rhinos dual registered player to play for Rovers this season when he was in the starting line-up against Toulouse.

“Ash was outstanding and obviously he’s real quality and added to us,” said Duffy.

“Everyone was good across the board. Obviously we had a shaky start but we got to grips with things.

“I said to the boys at half-time about not letting ourselves be our own undoing this season. It will be ourselves that lets us down so we’ve got to be on the ball every week and get that consistency as early as we can in our game.”

Rovers had first-half efforts by Luke Briscoe and Martyn Ridyard disallowed against Toulouse .

“The Briscoe try that was disallowed was a try and Ridyard went over under the sticks and I’m not sure what he got pulled for but when we watched it back it wasn’t offside so we could have had another two scores there,” added Duffy who was concerned his side conceded silly penalties last Sunday.

“We’ve got to deal with situations. We are going to get situations like that week in, week out so we’ve got to be better on the back end with penalties.

“Silly penalties really hurt us last Sunday.”

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are A Thorogood (P6567), I F Stirling (W5564), M Oldroyd (K2815), V Rushworth (J0668). Friday: No winner (£2,500 roll-over next week). £5 prizes: W Thorpe (V1822), D Westerman (V3141).