Featherstone’s new-look squad starts to take shape

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "You can't underestimate the importance of the off-season and the effect it has on the year."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "You can't underestimate the importance of the off-season and the effect it has on the year."
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Featherstone’s squad for next season has started to take shape with the signing of Anthony Thackeray and Jonny Davies.

After last week’s announcement that 16 players were leaving, Rovers have unveiled their first new recruits from outside the club in half-back Thackeray and back-row forward Davies, two former Castleford Tigers players.

They have also agreed new contracts with young forwards Jack Ormondroyd and Sam Day who both made a big impact towards the end of last season.

Several more signings are in the pipeline before Rovers resume training next month.

“We’ve got declarations of interest in three players and hopefully if we can get two of them I’ll be really pleased,” said Rovers coach Jon Sharp.

“Our recruitment strategy has to be specific to the needs of the team. We can’t afford to waste money on one player.

“The budgets are tight but the expectancy is high so every signing and every announcement of retention or release does have a legitimate reason behind it.”

Sharp, who took over as head coach in July, has plenty of work planned during his first close-season at Big Fellas Stadium.

“Our pre-season will be enormous,” he added.

“As the season finished, I saw the players become fitter as the year went on. Players were putting their hands up after 15 minutes to come off and by the end of the season they were playing 60 minutes. The work we got into them during last season was obviously beneficial to them but you can’t underestimate the importance of the off-season and the effect it has on the year.

“The challenge is going to be that I’m going to have a lot of new players and it’s a new coach with new systems.

“A lot of work will clearly be spent on fitness but also on team concept, tactics and plans.

“We could potentially have a very different looking side to the one that started last season so we need to put some work into them during the off-season to get them ready.”

Sharp is delighted with the recruitment of Thackeray and Davies.

Thackeray, 29, has joined Rovers from Dewsbury Rams and Davies has been snapped up from Sheffield Eagles.

Thackeray, who played for Castleford in Super League in 2008 and then for Widnes, has signed a three-year contract which will include community work with the Rovers’ Foundation.

Davies, 24, who has joined Rovers on a two-year deal, began his career at Castleford and had loan spells at York and Dewsbury before playing for Batley and then Sheffield.