Rovers coach: I expect to see a much better effort

Jon Sharp: "We've got some busted blokes but it will give us the chance to try some new guys in there."
Jon Sharp: "We've got some busted blokes but it will give us the chance to try some new guys in there."

Coach Jon Sharp is looking for a “massive improvement” when Featherstone face Whitehaven for the second time in three weeks in Sunday’s opening Championship Shield game at Big Fellas Stadium (3pm).

The Cumbrians, who finished five places below Rovers in the table, gave their best display of the campaign in a shock 29-0 victory at Featherstone in the final game of the regular season.

It left Rovers still looking for their first win under new boss Sharp, who took over the reins four weeks ago.

“Whitehaven were absolutely outstanding that day and played really well,” said Sharp.

“Hats off to them. They did a really good job on us and I just need to see a response from our blokes at the start of what is now a new competition. I want to see us build momentum.

“I am expecting a massive improvement this Sunday. I expect to see a much better effort.

“I’m looking for an improvement in resilience, attitude and patience, as well as the skill threat.

“We need to complete our sets. We were at 55 per cent last time and Whitehaven were at 90 plus and you can’t win a game playing like that.

“You can’t win a game playing without the ball so we’ve got to be patient, complete our sets and kick well.”

Because of injury problems, Sharp is set to give several youngsters a chance this weekend.

Ben Blackmore, who damaged his A/C shoulder joint against Whitehaven, and Jy Hitchcox (back and shin injuries) are both doubtful, along with hooker Andy Ellis.

Prop Paul Wood will be missing because of a facial injury while centre Thomas Minns could be out for the rest of the season because of hamstring trouble.

Sharp will be checking on Ian Hardman and Gareth Moore who both missed the last game against Whitehaven.

“We’ve got some busted blokes but it will give us the chance to try some new guys in there,” said Sharp.

“I want to see some of the young blokes have an opportunity and create a bit of enthusiasm and a bit of vigour.”

Featherstone’s other Championship Shield fixtures are against Doncaster (away, August 16), Workington (away, August 23), Batley Bulldogs (home, August 31), Dewsbury Rams (home, September 6), Hunslet Hawks (away, September 11) and London Broncos (home, September 20).

All Rovers season ticket holders will have free admission to this Sunday’s opening Shield fixture.

For all the Shield fixtures at Big Fellas Stadium, admission will be £10 adults and concessions, with free admission for under 16s.

The top four teams qualify for the play-off semi-finals. The Championship Shield final is at Widnes on Sunday, October 4.

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are N McMonagle (B 3290), P Sturdy (F1403), C Clifton (C2878), C Woodhead (A4660), S Brown (J2772). £5 consolation prizes: W Thorpe (V1822), B Wain (W0523).