Rovers display delights coach Bastian

Rovers prop Matt Nicholson is carried off in the recent pre-season game against Halifax after sustaining a serious knee ligament injury. Picture: Bob Nunn.
Rovers prop Matt Nicholson is carried off in the recent pre-season game against Halifax after sustaining a serious knee ligament injury. Picture: Bob Nunn.
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Featherstone coach John Bastian was happy with his side’s performance in Sunday’s 54-6 win over Hull FC.

Rovers followed up victories over Halifax, Wakefield Wildcats and Hunslet Hawks with a 10-try spree in a testimonial match for Hull stalwart Richard Whiting.

It took their tally to 134 points scored and just 26 conceded in four pre-season games ahead of their opening Championship fixture at Dewsbury Rams on February 16.

“I was particularly proud of the boys and not just on Sunday but how they’ve prepared in pre-season,” said Bastian.

“Our skill level was right up there. We were very positive and we wanted to be creative.

“We wanted to play some rugby league and we certainly did.

“We scored some wonderful tries but we never forgot about defence and the importance of working hard in defence and I thought our systems again were very good.

“Most people who work around me will understand how I work. I want them to work with lots of energy but also want them to be expansive and creative when they play rugby league.

“I’ve had that instilled into me by Tony Smith (Warrington Wolves coach) and I’m always very grateful for what he has put into me. I will not forget that.

“We’ll start practising again this week and start building towards the opening game at Dewsbury but I was delighted with what the boys did on Sunday.

We’ve got a healthy competition for places and the players know that. When we get to the Dewsbury game we can only pick 17 and they fully understand that.

“The ones that are disappointed I expect them to work hard and then when they get their opportunity they will grab it.”

Bastian again praised the impact the club’s new strength and conditioner Gaz Whittaker has made at the club.

“I have known Gaz Whittaker for a long time and I know the hard work he has put into his own personal development into being one of the best strength and conditioners in the country and he’s certainly got the skills,” added Bastian.

“He’s got the players in fantastic condition and not only that he’s a personable guy.

“The players relate to him and go to him for advice, not just on strength and conditioning but for diet, nutrition and sleep patterns.

“He’s a very skilful man and we are very pleased to have him on board at Featherstone.”

Rovers prop forward Matt Nicholson faces a long lay-off with a serious knee ligament injury.

It is a similar injury to the one that saw teammate Kyle Briggs miss most of last season.

Nicholson, a close-season signing from York City Knights, sustained the injury in the recent pre-season match against Halifax.

“Matty has done his ACL and his MCL so we’ll work hard with him,” said Bastian.

“He’s still an important part of our plans. It’s going to be a while for him but we’ll get him through that.”

Rovers, who are without a fixure this weekend, will check on the progress of Ian Hardman (ribs), Kyle Briggs (knee) and Andy Kain (groin) who missed last weekend’s game against Hull.

Josh Sunley is available after completing a one-match suspension.

Bastian said: “Andy Kain’s injury is a week to week one. He has got a very sore groin at the moment and we’ll bring him on slowly but surely.”

Featherstone’s first team squad numbers for the new season will be revealed next Wednesday (February 12) in the Cappers Bar (7.30pm).

The event will be another chance for supporters to meet the first-team players and coaching staff.

All player kit sponsors for 2014 are invited to attend to present their chosen player with their home playing shirt.