Rovers set for another tough test against Rhinos

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "I saw Leeds against Hull KR and they defended really well against a really good attacking team."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "I saw Leeds against Hull KR and they defended really well against a really good attacking team."

Coach Jon Sharp expects another stern test in Featherstone’s final pre-season game against dual registration partners Leeds Rhinos at Big Fellas Stadium tomorrow (7.45pm).

Sharp was delighted with his side’s display in last Sunday’s 28-20 win against Wakefield Trinity and is looking for more of the same against a strong Leeds team ahead of the opening Kingstone Press Championship fixture at Halifax on February 5.

He was impressed with Leeds when he watched them beat red-hot Championship favourites Hull KR 30-4 in Rhinos winger Ryan Hall’s testimonial match at Headingley last Friday.

“We will face a Leeds team who are going to be strong, not just physically but mentally as well,” said Sharp.

“They are a well coached team who have strength in depth. I think it will test us defensively and we’ll have to be on our mettle. Attacking-wise we are going to have have put on some exceptional plays to break them down.

“I saw Leeds against Hull KR and they defended really well against a really good attacking team in Hull KR who threw a lot at them.”

Sharp is happy with how Rovers have played in pre-season victories over Halifax, Hunslet, York and Wakefield and he is pleased with the impact made by new signings Richard Moore, Michael Knowles, Chris Ulugia, Keal Carlile, Jason Walton and Frankie Mariano.

“I am really pleased with the recruitment,” he added.

“The new blokes have added another dimension to our attacking play. We’ve added a cutting edge to our attack.

“They are robustious, they are aggressive and they have plenty of punch in them.

“It’s been a really good off-season for us. We’ve put a lot of stuff we’ve practiced into the games and that’s been pleasing.

“It’s been good to see that we’ve tried to play with an adventure that tests teams defensively and it’s also really good to watch. The fans are enjoying it and they are getting excited and behind the team as well.

“The halves, in particular, are playing well together. Wildie and Thackeray are doing extremely well.

“I like the look of Walton and Duckworth - they look the part on that side - and I think the pack as a whole is performing really well together.

“The strength in depth of the squad is certainly causing some selection headaches but so is the form of players.

“The players are in really good nick and they are making me pick them, which is what I want.”

Rovers are without winger James Duckworth (ankle) and Misi Taulapapa but Frankie Mariano returns after missing the Wakefield game.

Featherstone’s 20-man squad is Andy Bostock, Anthony Thackeray, Brad Tagg, Chris Ulugia, Darrel Griffin, Frankie Mariano, Ian Hardman, Jason Walton, John Davies, Josh Hardcastle, Keal Carlile, Kyle Briggs, Kyran Johnson, Luke Briscoe, Luke Cooper, Matty Wildie, Michael Knowles, Richard Moore, Sam Day, Scott Turner.

Leeds will have many of their star players on duty. Their squad is:

Golding; Briscoe, Watkins, Keinhorst, Hall; Sutcliffe, Burrow; Garbett, Parcell, Mullally, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Ormondroyd. Subs: Ward, Delaney, Walters, Handley, Baldwinson, Lilley, Aston, Oledzki, Jordan-Roberts, Hallas.