New boss pleased with Featherstone’s strong squad

John Bastian: "It's a good, strong squad."
John Bastian: "It's a good, strong squad."

New head coach John Bastian believes competition for places will help bring the best out of Featherstone’s squad next season.

Rovers started pre-season training on Monday under their former player Bastian, who has joined them from Warrington Wolves where he was director of youth development for five years.

Bastian has finally taken up the reins at Featherstone after being appointed in May on a three-year contract.

“It has been a long wait but it has certainly been worthwhile and I’ve been doing lots behind the scenes for the last four or five months,” he said.

“We’ve got all the staffing structure together and the squad is more or less finalised. Once you put the little things in place and it becomes part of the infrastructure it makes life a lot easier when you start pre-season.”

Rovers have retained the nucleus of last season’s squad and they have made a string of new signings including Jamie Cording, Colton Roche, Jamahl Chisholm, Etu Uaisele, Shaun Pick, James Mendieka, Matt Nicholson, Liam Walmsley, Keegan Hirst, Gareth Moore, George Flanagan and Gavin Bennion.

“It’s a good, strong squad. It’s going to be a competitive squad as well, which is healthy,” added Bastian.

“It’s important there is competition for places and there is not just a fixed position for everybody.

“I think it’s wrong for players to be able to just command a position - they have to earn it. The players recognise that and they are smart enough to know they’ve got to work hard in the off-season and they’ve got to perform on the field.

“Hopefully along the road we don’t get too many injuries and players are competitive for the positions that are up for grabs.

“We’ve got a squad of around 31 to 32 players and that’s not as huge as some people might think. You need that squad for a long, hard season.

“It’s a good balance. We have some good senior players that have lots of experience and we’ve got plenty of young players who have lots of potential.

“I am pleased with some of the new young players we’ve signed and I’m also pleased with some of the youngsters that are already at Featherstone. There are some exciting kids there as well. If they work hard and recognise what they want to achieve in rugby league and what it takes to achieve that there is no reason why they cannot do well at Featherstone Rovers.”