Powell set to utilise strength in depth

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COACH Daryl Powell is set to make full use of Featherstone’s strong squad for tomorrow’s (Sunday) Northern Rail Cup game against Dewsbury Rams at Bigfellas Stadium (3pm).

It will be Rovers’ second game in four days following Wednesday’s re-arranged fixture at Oldham which Powell’s men won 68-0.

With Anthony England (pictured), Dominic Maloney, Jonny Hepworth and Tom Hemingway all set to play in last night’s (Friday) under 23s game against Halifax at Bigfellas Stadium, Powell is likely to have plenty of selection options for tomorrow’s first competitive home fixture of the season.

“I’ll be mindful of the depth of the squad we’ve got and making sure we use all our resources,” he said.

“There are going to be a few people pressing their claims in Friday’s game against Halifax. We’ve got a pretty competitive group at the moment.”

The Rovers boss is expecting a tough challenge against Dewsbury. He watched them lose their opening home game last Sunday against Halifax who were 36-6 winners.

“Dewsbury will be disappointed with last weekend’s result although I thought Halifax played pretty well and dominated field position and that’s an area we are looking to be strong in and we need to do something similar,” he said.

“Dewsbury have plenty of good players and I am expecting a tough game. Whenever we’ve played them over the last few years it has been pretty physical and aggressive. We know what they are about as a team and it is up to us to try impose ourselves on the game. It’s our first home match of the new season so obviously it’s a key game for us.”

Powell believes Rovers can overcome the disadvantage of playing at Oldham in midweek.

“Dewsbury will be thinking we are there to be shot at but it’s up to us to prove that we are not,” he said.

“We are a tough enough group and we’ve got a strong enough squad to be able to handle it. It’s not ideal but we’ve just got to show what we are about and we are prepared to do that.”

Powell was disappointed that Rovers had to play on Wednesday night.

He said: “Obviously having to play two games in four days is not ideal. There’s not a lot we can do about the weather but I think a more sensible plan could have been approved but it is what it is and we’ve got to get on with it. I said to the lads last week that I think we are going to have to show how tough we are early on in the season.

“I would have preferred to play it on Tuesday or I would have preferred to move it further into the season when players are used to physical contact a little bit more.

“But there’s not an awful lot we can do. We were told we’d got to play on Wednesday so we just had to get on with it. Now it’s happened there’s not too much fuss about it.”

Winger Gareth Raynor, who did not play at Oldham, is set to play against Dewsbury tomorrow.

Nathan Chappell is the only Featherstone player on the injured list. He is set to return to action in May after major knee surgery .

Powell said: “Nathan is getting better all the time and he’s ahead of schedule. Obviously, he will provide more competition for places. He was pretty strong for us last season when he played.”

Featherstone are inviting all the club’s former international players to tomorrow’s game. Any players interested in attending are asked to contact Paul Taylor at the club on 01977-702386.

The Rovers community department are staging an under nines rugby tournament prior to tomorrow’s match.

Eight teams from throughout West Yorkshire have entered.

The tournament will kick off at noon.

The final will be played at half time during the main match.

Admission prices tomorrow are £15 adults, £9 concessions and £3 juniors.

Meanwhile, former Rovers player Matt Bramald has been appointed the club’s new under 18s coach, with ex-Castleford Tigers and Salford player Jason Flowers as his assistant.

Powell said: “I am delighted to have them both on board.

“We’ve taken a bit of time after Mark Butterill left to weigh things up and stabilise the situation at the club. I didn’t want to jump in.

“I’ve sat down and had a couple of lengthy discussions with both Matt and Jason and they are both real good quality individuals who will get the right messages across to the young players.”

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are M Hughes (J6708), M Wilkes (L4306), R Mann (L5146), C Clark (K0499), J Potter (N2230). £5 consolation prizes: J Bagg (V0124), K Sheldon (W1444), R Timson (V1444), J Birkitt (V0524).