FEATHERSTONE’S long-serving full-back Ian Hardman is on the road to recovery after a hernia operation.
He will miss the opening warm-up match at Castleford Tigers on Boxing Day but he aims to be back for pre-season games in January.
“I’ve just had an operation so my training is a little bit modified at the minute,” said Hardman who joined Rovers in 2009.
“I’d been struggling with a hernia problem for probably the last two or three months last season.
“I’ve had that corrected now and there’s a bit of recovery work for me now for the next four to five weeks and then I’ll be ready for the friendlies in January.
“I’d like to stay as consistent as I can be next season. At the moment I’m just focussing on getting myself right and getting myself fit and I’ll be ready to have another big season.”
Hardman believes Rovers are set for a successful 2018.
“We’ve got a really good squad that’s been put together and training has been fantastic so far with the lads. There’s a really good buzz about the place,” he added.
“We’ll be hoping to build on that pre-season and have a really good year. I think it’s an improved squad from last year. We’ve had additions of quality and we are looking forward to improving as a team.
“We haven’t got a huge squad but I think we have got a few options of quality in each position.
“I think everyone in our squad is really looking towards being in that 17 and if they are not they are going to be really disappointed.”
Hardman says Rovers will be aiming to start their Kingstone Press Championship campaign with “all guns blazing” when they host Halifax in the opener on February 4.
“You need competition for places across the board and that’s what pre-season is about,” he said.
“People are competing with each other in the team and trying to put their best foot forward to make sure they get their place. We will probably be using different combinations and people will be getting rotated in the friendlies to make sure we are all guns blazing for the start of the season.”
Meanwhile, new assistant coach Jay Duffy has quickly settled in at LD Nutrition Stadim, working alongside his brother John, Rovers’ head coach.
“It’s a good group of staff, good group of lads and obviously a great set up,” said Jay.
“Although John and I are brothers when we are in this environment it’s very much a case of the brothers stuff goes out of the window and he’s the boss and I’m his assistant and that’s how it works.
“We’ve got a good working relationship from our time at Swinton and we’ve worked with each other before that.
“We get the best out of each other and I think we really enjoy each other’s company in this kind of environment.
“It’s really exciting. I’m looking forward to the pre-season games to see how we go and hopefully fire into the season and start really well.”
Jay Duffy believes keen competition for places will be a big asset for Featherstone next season.
“Obviously, we have made some great signings and strengthened the squad. There’s competition all over the park,” he added.
“That’s want you want as a coach. Although it’s hard sometimes sitting people down and telling them they are not playing I think it’s a headache that John wants.
“People have got to put their hands up for starting jerseys so I don’t think we can go into any of the friendlies treating them lightly. I think we’ve got to go in firing and it’s about the lads showing what pre-season has been all about.”