Sharp expects severe test for Featherstone’s defence

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "We are going to have to defend well because Toulouse are a superb attacking team."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "We are going to have to defend well because Toulouse are a superb attacking team."

COACH JON Sharp expects Featherstone’s defence to be severely tested by Sunday’s visitors Toulouse Olympique.

The French side have started excellently in the Championship after winning promotion from League One last season.

They are third in the table, just two points behind Rovers.

“We’ve done our homework on Toulouse like we do on teams every week,” said Sharp.

“We know what they’ve got and how dangerous they are. We know they’ll be up for the challenge.

“They are doing really well and they are playing some really good attacking football.

“They have got some excellent players and they work hard for each other.”

Sharp is hoping for improved conditions at Big Fellas Stadium this weekend after his side’s first two home games against Oldham and Rochdale were both played in mud-baths.

“The field at Featherstone is drying out nicely. Both teams like to play football and I think that’s what both sides will be hoping for this Sunday,” he added.

“We are going to have to defend well because Toulouse are a superb attacking team.

“When we’ve got the ball we have to be more patient and keep the ball off them.”

Rovers will be checking on Anthony Thackeray, Keal Carlile and Luke Briscoe who missed last Sunday’s Challenge Cup fourth round victory at Bradford and on Brad Tagg and James Duckworth who were both injured at Odsal.

“Keal Carlile has had an elbow injury for three weeks and has had it heavily strapped. It’s been causing problems,” said Sharp.

“Anthony Thackeray had a tightening in his hamstring on Thursday and we were concerned about that but hopefully that will have settled down.

“Luke Briscoe picked up a shoulder injury in the opening minutes in the match against Sheffield Eagles and played on with it. It’s been really sore but hopefully he will be fine this week.

“Brad Tagg and James Duckworth both have ankle injuries and it’s going to be touch and go with the both of them for this weekend.”

Sharp will also check on the availability of Leeds Rhinos dual registered players after being without any for the Challenge Cup game at Bradford because the Rhinos did not want them cup tied.

The Featherstone boss was pleased with his side’s display in wet and windy conditions at Bradford last weekend.

“The conditions were atrocious, as bad as the Rochdale and Oldham games, but we played some better stuff than we have been doing so it was a really positive day,” he said.

“I was pleased with the win. It’s knock-out football and it’s all about winning.

“We made eight changes and gave blokes an opportunity and they took it.

“The group of players looked confident and played really well.”

“We had players playing out of position and no dual reg players so I think on the whole I was pleased with the victory.

“We had some tough calls against us and the ruck area was a complete shambles. It was a really difficult day but we were resilient and we had patience.

“We had two tries disallowed and there’s a photo going round of Sammy Day having grounded the ball for one of them.”

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