New signings in Rovers team for Hawks clash

George Flanagan is set to make his Featherstone debut. Picture: Mark Bickerdike.
George Flanagan is set to make his Featherstone debut. Picture: Mark Bickerdike.

New signings will make their debuts in Featherstone’s opening warm-up match against Hunslet Hawks at Big Fellas Stadium on New Year’s Day (1.30pm kick-off).

George Flanagan, Keegan Hirst, Liam Walmsley, Gaz Moore, Colton Roche, Jamahl Chisholm and Gavin Bennion are set to make their bow for Rovers in the annual Gareth Swift Memorial Trophy match.

Jack Bussey and Moore are likely to be at half-back.

“We are going to go with 22 and a fair proportion of the new signings will be involved,” said Rovers coach John Bastian.

“Jack Bussey is very versatile and can play in various positions. He’s a skilful kid and he’s been training the house down. It will probably be him and Gaz Moore featuring in the half-back positions.”

Ben Hellewell and James Mendeika, who played for Scotland and Ireland respectively in the World Cup, will not play.

Andy Kain and Andy Bostock, who have minor injuries, and Kyle Briggs , who is recovering from major knee surgery, will also miss out.

“The boys who have been involved in the World Cup like Ben Hellewell and James Mendeika need a bit more of a rest.

“Kyle Briggs won’t be playing and the likes of Andy Kain and Andy Bostock are carrying little injuries so we won’t push them either.”

New boss Bastian is relishing his first game in charge of the team.

“I am very excited about it,” he said.

“It’s been a pretty intense pre-season. We were in on Monday when we had a pretty tough schedule.

“We are in our seventh week of pre-season and the boys have been fantastic and worked really hard.

“We’ve still got a long way to go before our first game against Dewsbury. We’ve got two and a half months to actually get ourselves prepared from a footballing perspective.

“Certainly, from the fitness side I’m really pleased how the boys are going and a lot of that is down to the credit of our new strength and conditioner Gaz Whittaker. He’s put a great programme together and the boys have responded to that.

“We will be trying lots of little things in the pre-season games and improving as we go along, leading into the first competitive match against Dewsbury.”