Featherstone coach Andy Hay says there is an “air of confidence” in the camp ahead of Sunday’s clash against unbeaten Championship leaders Leigh Centurions (5.15pm kick-off) at the inaugural Summer Bash in Blackpool.
Leigh have won their last 25 matches, a run that includes Challenge Cup victories this season against Super League sides Salford and Wakefield.
Their four wins over Featherstone last year included the Championship Grand Final.
The Centurions also won 40-6 at Big Fellas Stadium earlier this season after recovering from 6-4 down at half-time but Hay believes his side are in good shape for this weekend’s showdown, especially after their magnificent display in Sunday’s 37-34 Challenge Cup defeat at Catalans Dragons .
“We feel like we are getting where we want to be,” he said.
“There’s been a buzz around the club and the changing rooms for about the last month. The atmosphere has just been great. There’s an air of confidence throughout the group at the minute and that’s what we needed. It’s probably the best it’s been since I’ve been here.
“Leigh are a great side and they’ve just knocked another Super League team out of the Challenge Cup. We know what we are up against. We know what to expect but we are ready for the challenge.
“We matched them for long periods when we played them at Featherstone earlier in the season. We want to play for the full 80 minutes this time and we feel we can pose them some problems. If we get our defence right as well, it should be a tighter game.”
Gareth Moore, Andy Ellis, Paul Sykes, Paul Wood, Garreth Carvell, Reni Maitua, Jamie Cording, Andy Bostock, Ian Hardman and Tim Spears all missed last weekend’s cup match against Catalans in which Jack Bussey (hamstring), Nathan Chappell (knee) and Luke Cooper (ankle) sustained injuries.
“We got a couple of injuries at Catalans and that was one of the reasons we fielded some of the younger players. We couldn’t risk taking players who were carrying knocks into the game,” added Hay.
“Jack Bussey got a knock at the end and we thought he’d torn his hamstring but when he came in for treatment on Monday night it wasn’t as bad as we first thought so hopefully he’ll be available for the weekend.
“All the players who didn’t play at Catalans were carrying injuries.
“They needed a bit of a break and it just coincided with the game so it worked out well for us.
“I think most of them should be back this weekend.
“The only real doubt is Tim Spears who has a calf injury. There’s small tear but it’s not as significant as we first thought so he’s doing some light work in training.
“I think coming back this week will be a bit of a push for Tim because if you try too early it could tear again. He’s had it before and he knows what to do, he’s a very good professional.
“Apart from him, I think everyone else should be in the mix.”