Three trialists given another chance to make their mark with Rovers

Featherstone Lions centre Josh Hardcastle will have another run out with Rovers in Sunday's game against Hunslet Hawks after he scored two tries at Halifax on Boxing Day. Picture: Jonathan Buck.
Featherstone Lions centre Josh Hardcastle will have another run out with Rovers in Sunday's game against Hunslet Hawks after he scored two tries at Halifax on Boxing Day. Picture: Jonathan Buck.

Trialists Josh Hardcastle, James Kitchen and Aaron Lyons will have another chance to impress in Featherstone’s first home pre-season match against Hunslet Hawks in the annual Gareth Swift Memorial Trophy fixture at Big Fellas Stadium on Sunday (3pm).

All three played in the 38-14 victory at Halifax on Boxing Day after training with Rovers.

Coach Jon Sharp is set to field a similar squad to the one on duty at The Shay.

Matty Wildie and Scott Turner will have their second run outs after making successful comebacks at Halifax but Sharp may again rest several older players.

He is looking for Rovers to continue the promising form they showed on Boxing Day.

“It should be a good work out for us against Hunslet and we can blow away some cobwebs,” he said.

“I am looking forward to seeing the continuity of what we did on Boxing Day.

“I’ve given the players a week off training so we probably won’t look as slick as we were at Halifax but I still expect some determination and some aggression from our blokes and I expect that from Hunslet as well.

“We’ve had a break for Christmas so I think we might be a bit scratchy but we are looking forward to getting out there again and playing.

“We will put a decent team out again like we did against Halifax. We will look at everyone and give them an opportunity.

“It will be a similar squad to the one that played Halifax. We’ve got a very small squad anyway.”

Sharp said Kyle Briggs was now progressing “slowly” from the ankle trouble that sidelined him last season.

“It’s not healing as fast as we had hoped it would,” he added.

Sharp was pleased with the performances of Turner, Wildie and trialists Hardcastle, Kitchen and Lyons at Halifax.

It was Wildie’s first game since he suffered a knee injury in a pre-season match against Leeds Rhinos 12 months ago while ex-Sheffield Eagles winger Turner also missed most of last season with knee trouble.

Centre Hardcastle and forward Kitchen both play for National Conference League Featherstone Lions and former Hunslet Hawks and York City Knights front rower Lyons is looking for a new club.

Both Kitchen and Lyons have had previous spells with Rovers.

Said Sharp: “Wildie and Turner were both really good at Halifax. I was pleased with them - they didn’t look like they had been away.

“Turner grew as the game went on and he richly deserved the man of the match award.

“Both Turner and Wildie need game time. They’ve been out of the game for a year so they need to keep playing.

“I was really pleased with the two Featherstone Lions players.

“Hardcastle looked a handful on the edges and Kitchen got a bit more confident as the match wore on.

“He got his second wind and looked a handful when he carried the ball.”

Hardcastle and Kitchen have both been training with Rovers for around five weeks and Lyons for a bit less.

“I’ve been pleased with all three of them. They’ve contributed to pre-season massively,” added Sharp who was delighted with his side’s display at Halifax.

“There were no injuries which was a priority and I thought we showed some real touches of class,” he said.

“We played lots of good football and defended well when we needed to.

“I was disappointed with the penalty count. I was scratching my head at some of the decisions that were given but it’s that time of year when we are feeling our way in and the refs are no different.”

Sunday’s Featherstone-Hunslet fixture is in memory of Rovers hooker Gareth Swift, a 19-year-old first-team player, who died in a road accident in 2010.

Admission is £10 adults and £5 concessions/juniors.

Auditions for the Rovers All Stars Dance Academy will be held in the Rovers clubhouse next Tuesday, January 10, from 8 to 9pm.

Dancers must be at least 16 years old, have a strong dance technique, love performing and be able to work as a team.

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