FEATHERSTONE Rovers have signed prop Dave Williams from Super League club Harlequins after being hit by a spate of injuries.
Already without Ross Divorty and Iain Morrison, Rovers lost another prop last weekend when Mick Haley was injured in the 28-22 win at Barrow Raiders.
Williams, who has joined Featherstone on a dual registration, is set to make his debut in Saturday’s Northern Rail Cup match against Widnes Vikings at Big Fellas Stadium.
The 24-year-old Londoner joined Harlequins at the age of 15 as an academy player and made his Super League debut in 2008. He was awarded a squad number the following year but injury ruled him out for much of the 2009 season.
Rovers coach Daryl Powell (pictured) said: “He’s a big kid and pretty athletic and he’s ambitious to play in Super League but he’s not quite there at the moment so it will be interesting to get him on board.
“He’s a big, strong athlete and we are looking forward to reinvigorating the team with some size after what has happened to us recently.
“Hopefully, he will prove a useful acquisition for us particularly over the next six to eight weeks when we are going to be a little bit skinny on front row forwards.”
Haley, a close-season signing from Sheffield Eagles, was stretchered off with a serious groin injury shortly before half-time at Barrow last Sunday and could now be sidelined for three months.
Powell said: “That’s our third prop who is out for a reasonable length of time and that’s made things really difficult for us.
“Mick Haley injured his groin when he fell really awkwardly in a very difficult position. He was in a lot of pain and had to go to hospital for an x-ray to check he hadn’t done any damage to his joints and his bones.
“He could be out for three months. We are going to have to wait and see how he responds to treatment but the signs are that it is going to be a lengthy injury.
“Iain Morrison is likely to be out for another month and Ross Divorty will be out for a further six to seven weeks so there’s no end in sight in terms of what’s happening with our front rowers.
“It’s frustrating at the moment but there’s nothing you can do about it. Rugby league is a tough sport and we have just got to put up with these things that come along every now and again.”
Something must give when Featherstone and Widnes meet on Saturday because they both boast 100 per cent records after winning their opening three matches. With Dewsbury and Barrow meeting this weekend, Rovers and the Vikings are both virtually guaranteed places in the Northern Rail Cup knock-out stages but Powell believes it is still an important match.
“We’ll be looking to win the game. Obviously, you want to make a statement anyway against teams that are in your division. We’ve got to play Widnes at least another twice so we want to go well against them and we might get them again at some stage in the Northern Rail Cup,” he said.
“It’s an important game on Saturday. It’s not as crucial as it could have been but it is important in terms of players’ and team form and confidence so we will be looking to play as well as we can.
“You want to be winning games consistently and that’s where we are at as a group. We don’t go into any game thinking we are going to take it easy or we are not going to win it.
“I think Denis Betts (Widnes head coach) will do a really good job with them. He’s a really professional guy and I think Widnes will be a strong outfit this year.”
Rovers also lost full-back Ian Hardman with a quadriceps (thigh) injury at Barrow but Powell believes there is a chance he could be fit to face Widnes.
“Ian Hardman got a quad injury which I’m hoping is not going to be too bad. There’s a chance he could be okay for the weekend,” he said.
“We are are under the pump a little bit and I’m going to have to make decisions on what I see is best for the team and individual players this week. There are a few players we have to look after and I’ll be evaluating that throughout the week. I’ve got to check on a few guys.”
Powell was delighted with Featherstone’s display at Barrow.
Rovers lost injured Hardman and Haley in the first-half and had young Mufaro Mvududu making his first-team debut from the bench.
Said Powell: “It was a great effort from all the players because we were a bit busted with injuries particularly at prop.
“The spirit and determination in the group is so strong that we were able to beat one of the best sides in our competition, despite facing so much adversity.
“We had only two subs for the whole of the second-half..
“Hardman was injured after about five minutes which meant Tommy Saxton had to play almost the whole game and he hadn’t trained all week.
“Hardman and Haley couldn’t come back on and we had Mufaro Mvududu making his debut because Jonny Grayson had pulled out on the morning of the match because his partner was ill. Tony Tonks, who had been ill all week and hadn’t trained, was on the bench as well.
“We’d got ourselves some breathing space when we led 18-6 but Barrow then scored straight after half-time. They got a 40-20 and scored straight from the scrum.
“After that, we had to work hard to stay in the game. They were almost constantly putting us under pressure and we were working off scraps to be honest.
“We only had four sets in their half in the second-half but we looked like scoring every time. We scored two tries and made a line break on another and created some space on another so we did really well when we had the ball in good field position but we just didn’t get much of it.
“It was a backs-to-the-walls effort and every single player was outstanding defensively. It was a real quality effort.”
Powell is hoping young prop Dom Dee, a close-season signing from Hull Kingston Rovers, will make an impact this season.
He said: “Dom Dee has been struggling a little bit in terms of getting to grips with this level. He’s come from under 20s and he’s found it pretty tough. We are helping Dom to get his confidence to play at this level and we are hoping he’s going to develop and grow as the season progresses.”
Rovers have lost hooker James Davey who has returned to Wakefield Wildcats after joining Rovers on a dual registration. Davey was on the bench in Wakefield’s 38-14 win at Catalans Dragons last weekend.
Powell said: “Dual registered players can go back at any time. That’s just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it.
“It’s great for James that he gets an opportunity to play Super League but it’s disappointing for us particularly with our injury situation at the moment.”