FEATHERSTONE Rovers boss Daryl Powell has promised fans that the club can bounce back stronger next year after the disappointment of two final heartbreaks in 2012.
After missing out on Championship Grand Final glory against Sheffield on top of a similar disappointment in the Northern Rail Cup final, Rovers will not lack motivation next season and believe they are in a strong position to ensure lessons are learned to turn the near misses into celebrations.
Head coach Powell looked back on a season that was close to being one of the best in the club’s history.
He told the Express: “We’ve played well this season, reached two finals, won the league and pushed the best team in the country at the time so close in a cup tie. Unfortunately we couldn’t quite finish it off in the finals.
“But it’s been an outstanding season for all sorts of reasons. We’ve got to make sure that we look back on what we did well and it can carry us through pre-season and into next season. We need to develop a continued drive as a result of what’s happened to us and improve again.
“We’ve been so close to what would have been an unbelievable season.
“We haven’t quite done this because we’ve lost two big games, but I think we have progressed. We beat a Super League side and showed we could compete on a big stage.
“But we got beat by two teams that got the better of us on the day. To be fair to Sheffield they’ve beaten us a couple of times this year.
“The players know exactly what they’ve missed out on. But they’ve worked exceptionally hard in the way they have gone about things this year.
“They’re a great group of blokes and there’s no doubt that they will come back even harder next year and will be looking to get that trophy back.”
Powell had no complaints about the result in the Grand Final at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
He said: “I thought Sheffield deserved to win the game. They were tough wet conditions for both sides and it restricted the game a little bit. We conceded a couple of soft tries that ultimately led to our defeat.
“It was disappointing the manner in which we lost it, but Sheffield are a good side and they’ve been outstanding at the back end of the season.
“It was close and we’ve had a couple of close games in finals this year, but haven’t been able to get over the line.
“We’re obviously bitterly disappointed that we didn’t win the game, but we’ll brush ourselves down and we’ve got to come back next year stronger for the experience this year.
“It’s been tough to take, but we’ve got an outstanding club, an outstanding group of people as players and we’ll get better. You’ve got to get on with it, there’s no point putting your head down and sulking and moaning.”
Powell is now looking ahead to taking a break once his player reviews are over as he will not be England’s assistant coach for the autumn internationals.
He added: “The players have got six weeks off now and I’ll get a break.
“I’m not involved with the England set up this year. I turned it down because I just felt that I had to give some time to my family after I have committed so much to Featherstone over the season.
“I didn’t have a holiday last year and I didn’t want to do that again so I’m not involved with England this time.”
Rovers players will report back for training on November 12, but the squad will not include forwards Dominic Maloney and Jonny Grayshon.
Maloney played his last game for the club in last Sunday’s Grand Final, while Grayshon missed out and is now considering retiring.
Powell explained: “It was a shame for Dominic Maloney that he could not sign off with a win in the final. It was his last game and he’s gone in the Army. I’ve wished him all the best.
“He’s been pretty good for us, but he just feels that he needs to do something else with his life.
“Jonny Grayshon is also leaving. I don’t know what he’s going to do - he may retire the way he’s talking at the moment. He’ll sort that out himself down the track.”