New signings set to make Featherstone Rovers debuts at Halifax

Kyle Briggs will have a late fitness test. Picture: Bob Nunn.
Kyle Briggs will have a late fitness test. Picture: Bob Nunn.

New signings Chris Ulugia, Keal Carlile, Richard Moore, Michael Knowles and Frankie Mariano are set to make their Featherstone Rovers debuts in the pre-season game at Halifax on Boxing Day (noon kick-off).

It will be Mariano’s second debut, having played for Rovers on loan from Wakefield in 2013.

Matty Wildie and Scott Turner are ready to have run-outs after lengthy injury lay-offs.

Coach Jon Sharp will also include two trialists in a squad of around 22 players.

Veterans Misi Taulapapa and Darrell Griffin are likely to be rested and Kyle Briggs will have a late fitness test after responding well to treatment on an ankle injury.

“At this stage we probably won’t run with Taulapapa or Griffin. We are just looking after them. They are the elder statesmen and they need managing,” said Sharp.

“It will be a late check on Briggs. If there’s any doubts he won’t run. His ankle is improving and we are happy with it. We just need to see how he reacts this week in training.

“Wildie and Turner will come into the mix. They’ve been training and we’ve been pleased with them.

“We also have two trialists and they’ll get their chance.

“We are hoping to get through the game injury free, that’s my main priority, and I want to have a look at some of the blokes who have been injured for a while and also these new guys.

“I think all the boys are looking forward to just getting out and having a game.

“We’ve been training for eight weeks and at the end of each week there’s not been a game to put things together so I think we are all looking forward to that.

“We are looking for a good fitness work-out and hopefully no injuries.

“We are travelling along nicely and I am delighted with the players. We are working them and testing them and the results coming back are really pleasing as well so physically they are in good shape.

“There will be plenty of opportunities for people to stake their claims for spots. The pre-season games will be trials for everyone.

“I’m trying to encourage competition for places so these games give everyone an opportunity to get some game time under their belts before the first Championship match.”.

Rovers and Halifax meet again at The Shay in the opening league fixture of the season on Sunday, February 5, but Sharp does not regard the Boxing Day match as any sort of rehearsal for that game.

“We are nowhere near where we need to be for the first league game and neither do we need to be. We’ve got six weeks left to be ready for that,” said Sharp who again expects Halifax to be among Featherstone’s top-four rivals next season.

“Halifax will probably be smarting from a disappointing year last season so we know they will be on their mettle this time around and be a greater challenge,” he said.

“They have been there or thereabouts for the last two years so I’m not expecting anything less this time. They will be right up there and a good challenge for us.”

The Rovers boss is still looking to add to his squad.

“I’ve shown some interest in one player but I backed off that one,” he said.

“I’m still looking at bringing at least one in. I think the squad is a bit light and an outside back is a target of mine.”