Rovers changes on cards for Halifax clash

Rovers coach Andy Hay: "Some players didn't perform up to scratch last Sunday."
Rovers coach Andy Hay: "Some players didn't perform up to scratch last Sunday."

Featherstone Rovers coach Andy Hay is set to make team changes for Sunday’s Championship match at Halifax.

Hay has to contend with injury problems but he will also look at having a shake-up after a disappointing performance in the 40-4 defeat against Bradford Bulls last Sunday.

“There will definitely be some forced changes through injuries but obviously we’ve got to go on form as well,” said Hay.

“We’ve got quite a few bumps and bruises from the Bradford game which we need to address this week and some players didn’t perform up to scratch last Sunday as well.”

Mason Tonks, Thomas Minns and Jack Bussey suffered knocks against Bradford as Rovers slumped to their first defeat of the season.

Tim Spears, Jamie Cording and Ian Hardman could be recalled to face Halifax and Hay will also check on Gareth Moore and Garreth Carvell who have missed the first three matches.

“Mason Tonks was taken off with concussion last Sunday. We will follow the protocols and if he’s eligible to play we will be looking at him by the weekend,” added Hay.

“Thomas Minns had a bang on his thumb and Jack Bussey may have an injury which we are checking on. He got a bump on his face.

“Tim Spears and Jamie Cording were fit to play last Sunday, it was just the selection process. We moved the team around a bit but it didn’t work and they will be in contention for this weekend. Ian Hardman is ready this week so he should be available.

“Gareth Moore still has an issue with his knee but hopefully we can have him available for Sunday and Gareth Carvell is back running so we hope he might be in contention.”

Hay will also check on the availability of dual registered players from Wakefield Wildcats.

“We still have an arrangement with Wakefield,” added Hay.

“We couldn’t have any of their players last week because they’d had a bit of a tough spell with injuries. I will speak to James Webster this week and see who is available.”

Featherstone’s Samoan international forward Reni Maitua, signed from Australian club Canberra Raiders, is set to arrive next week.

Rovers also hope Aussie prop Ryan Verlinden, recruited from Newtown Jets, will be here shortly.

Hay said: “We’ve had some good news with Reni. He has applied for his visa and if everything gets approved, which it should, he should be here by the middle of next week.

“Ryan is still waiting on his citizenship. He’s got a meeting in Canberra this week so hopefully there will be some good news from that as well.

“We are missing a big part of our pack and it would boost us massively if we could get them both here.”

Rovers centre James Mendeika is set to make his comeback from major knee surgery early next month.

“We looking at Easter for James Mendeika and we’ll probably try to give him a run out in a reserves game,” said Hay, who expects another tough test this weekend at Halifax.

“Halifax have been playing well. They’ve put a decent side together and improved what they had last year,” he added.

“I think we have a lot to learn from last Sunday’s game against Bradford. We need to sharpen up in attack and defence especially in attack.

“We didn’t really trouble Bradford enough when we had the ball. It was disappointing with the amount of possession we had early on that we didn’t manage to trouble their line and that gave Bradford a lot confidence. Defensively as well I thought we were uncharacteristically loose around our middle which we haven’t been all year.

“When you are playing good sides you’ve got to convert pressure into points and not just points but threatening play. Even though we were down there, we didn’t really threaten. Some of our last play options were quite poor.

“Bradford are a very good side. They’ve been hyped up all year and I think everyone has said they’ve got a better team this year than they had last season when they were in Super League.

“The pitch and the facilities were fantastic last Sunday. Everything about the day apart from the performance on the field was excellent, with the crowd and the support we got.”