Danny Craven is poised to make his Featherstone Rovers debut in a full-strength line-up in Sunday’s pre-season game against National One side Hunslet Hawks at Big Fellas Stadium (3pm).
Rovers coach Jon Sharp is set to field the same squad that was selected to play in last Sunday’s cancelled fixture against Salford, with the addition of utility player Craven, signed on a season-long loan from Widnes Vikings.
“Craven had a shoulder repair while he was at Widnes,” said Sharp.
“He’s now a had a couple of weeks of full contact and everything is fine. His parent club have given him the go ahead to play following some advice from them.
“He’s got plenty of versatility. He can play full-back, in the halves and also at nine if we need him. He increases competition for places in a multitude of positions.”
Half-back Kyle Briggs will make his first appearance since he rejoined Rovers for a third spell and experienced prop Darrell Griffin returns after missing the friendly against Wakefield Wildcats with a hand injury.
Rovers play Hunslet in the annual Gareth Swift Memorial Trophy game and then face Leeds Rhinos the following Sunday in warm-up games before their opening Championship fixture at Bradford Bulls on February 7.
“We were going to have a hybrid team against Hunslet but we’ll now go with our strongest side because we lost the fixture against Salford. We need the first-team to have a proper hit out,” added Sharp.
“Hunslet played really well in a pre-season game against Leeds so we are expecting a challenge but it’s very much about ourselves and about new combinations and seeing Briggs play. Hopefully, Craven will make his debut as well. We will play the strongest team we can.
“Steve Snitch has a bit of a sore knee so we will make a late decision on him.
“Jack Coventry had a hamstring injury and wasn’t included in the last squad.
“We’ve got a small squad but on the whole people are fit and healthy.
“I’ve got a rough idea of my team for the opening game at Bradford. I probably know 90 per cent of it.
“There’s just a couple of players battling for spots which will become clearer after the next two pre-season games.”
Rovers have been making full use of the state-of-the-art indoor facilities at the club’s Centre of Excellence during the recent wet weather.
Sharp said: “ We couldn’t get out on Monday night because the fields were just too wet.
“We did some weights and some skills indoors. It’s a massive benefit having the indoor facilities.
“We’d like to be out on the field more but the weather is just not good enough. The fields are just absolutely sodden.
“We can’t go near the first-team field because that’s wet through and the training pitch has taken a battering as well so we try to stay off that and play safe.
“The training field isn’t safe enough at the moment - it’s too wet and slippy.
“The risk of injuries is too great.”
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