Rovers ready for ‘massive’ Bradford test

Featherstone Rovers coach Andy Hay. Picture: Matthew Merrick.
Featherstone Rovers coach Andy Hay. Picture: Matthew Merrick.

Featherstone Rovers will put their 100 per cent Championship record on the line in Sunday’s clash against Bradford.

After beating Hunslet and Doncaster, Rovers will aim to make it three wins from three matches in their first fixture at Big Fellas Stadium in 2015 after previously being unable to play at home because of pitch maintenance work.

“It will be a massive test for us because Bradford are a quality side,” said Rovers coach Andy Hay.

“It will be a great atmosphere down here and a big challenge for us and we are going to meet it head on. We are physically ready.”

Sunday will be the first time Rovers have played on their new, extended pitch in front of spectators in both the club’s two new all-seater stands at the stadium’s Railway End.

It will be a significant milestone for the team of volunteers involved in a project which began in 2010 and has seen the dismantling, transportation and erection of two stands that were part of the former McCain Stadium, Scarborough Football Club’s old home.

“It’s a great fixture for your first game of the season on your home ground,” added Hay.

“The new stands will be open and the pitch has been extended. The ground looks fantastic and it’s going to be a huge occasion. It’s not too many times Featherstone have been underdogs, especially in a home game, but I think that’s a reflection of the strength and the quality of the competition this year.

“Bradford have been earmarked as favourites to win the Championship and it is a challenge for us to see how far we’ve come. We think we’ve built a quality side here and we want to test ourselves against the best.

“The Bulls are one of the best and Sunday is not the be all and end all but we want to give everything to show our fans in our first home match this year what we can do.”

Hay will check on Jack Bussey (ankle) and Ian Hardman (groin) who missed Sunday’s 13-6 win at Doncaster and also on Sam Irwin who was injured at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Rovers chief executive Pat Cluskey expects a bumper crowd on Sunday when, to celebrate the day, a number of players and coaches with both Rovers and Bradford connections will be honoured.

Guests will include Jimmy Thompson, Peter Fox, Paul Newlove, David Hobbs and Steve Evans.

“It’s a really big occasion and there is a lot of excitement in the air. We want to get as many people here as we can and get the place rocking,” said Mr Cluskey.

Rovers are still awaiting the arrival of Australian signings Ryan Verlinden and Reni Maitua.

Hay said: “Ryan is physically going to the Irish Embassy to try to move things forward with his passport.

“We’ve been told we will get some news early next week on Reni so hopefully it will be good news and we can get them both here very soon.”