FEATHERSTONE Rovers coach Daryl Powell wants his side to regard tomorrow’s Co-operative Championship game at Batley Bulldogs as the start of a new league campaign.
Champions Rovers have slipped to sixth in the table after conceding 60 points in each of their last two home league matches against Halifax and Sheffield.
Powell (pictured) says his players need to re-focus to get their season back on track after their poor league form coincided with their exploits against Super League opponents in the Challenge Cup.
“Obviously, we’ve had some pretty big highs recently and we’ve had some pretty deep lows. We need to find some consistency,” he said.
“We need to re-start our our season - that’s the way I will be looking at it now.
“We are certainly looking for some freshness in our performances. We need to start again and treat what happens from here as a new campaign.
“We’ve got to start from scratch and work our way back into a groove because at the moment we’ve lost our focus and that’s obvious looking at the couple of blow-outs we’ve had recently which were so unlike us.
“We’ve conceded more points in a game against Championship opponents twice than we did in two games against Super League opponents
“It’s a focus issue. We can obviously perform at the highest level but we are not doing it consistently at the moment.
“The reality is is that we’ve had to raise our levels pretty high for the cup games and we’ve been able to do that but we haven’t been able to re-focus on a week to week basis.”
Powell believes the Challenge Cup home matches against Castleford Tigers and Wigan Warriors were a big distraction.
Rovers beat Castleford 23-16 in the fourth round and then gave holders Wigan a big scare before losing 32-16.
“It’s a distraction because of all the publicity that has surrounded it. People have been talking about it all the time,” he said.
“We drew Castleford which obviously created a lot of publicity. We won that game and then played well against Wigan which created another load of publicity.
“We haven’t handled it at all well and I include myself in that. I’ve tried to keep the players where they need to be but for whatever reason it hasn’t worked.
“We’ve now all got to pull together and re-focus and build our game again.”
Rovers face a tough test at Mount Pleasant tomorrow. They have already lost to Batley this season, going down 34-22 at home in a Northern Rail Cup group match in February.
“Hopefully, we can get ourselves back on track. We have a tough game this week against Batley and it’s an important match for us,” said Powell.
“Batley is always a tough place to go - it doesn’t matter who you are. When you go there you know it’s going to be difficult.
“We are going to have to play well and raise our levels.
”We’ve been frontrunners in the league for the last couple of years but at the moment we’ve take a dip and that sees us half way down the table. However, the competition is tight and for me it’s about putting a run of games together and finding consistency and building from there.
“There’s no need to panic but we’ve all got to realise that this competition is going to be tough this year. It looks like it has levelled out a little bit and and I think standards have raised
“Halifax have raised their standards and some of the other teams have as well. We’ve got to go with that and strive to be better.
“It’s not that we can’t defend - we’ve showed we can defend - I think it’s about mental aptitutde and players being able to focus week to week. We haven’t been able to do that over the last five weeks.
“For us, it’s as tough as we want to make it. We know we are a good team and we can play well. If we are on our game we are a good side and if we are not we get beaten and that’s the way it should be in professional sport.”
Powell added: “You are not going to have it your way all the time and you need to work on ways to sort yourselves out as individuals and collectively.
“We’ve all got to work hard to straighten ourselves up.”
The Rovers boss hopes to have Tommy Saxton (groin) and Greg Worthington (calf) back after they both missed last weekend’s 60-12 defeat against Halifax.
Ben Kaye is doubtful after suffering a wrist injury in last Sunday’s game.
Powell said: “We’ll have to check on Ben during the week but he will be doubtful.
“I am hoping Tommy and Greg will both be back but we won’t know until later in the week.
Batley Bulldogs are running a reduced admission scheme for Sunday’s game.
The offer is open to all Batley Featherstone fans, not just season ticket holders.
To qualify for the reduced admission of £10 adults, £5 concessions and £1 for kids, all supporters need to do is be in the ground before 1pm.
Normal admission after this time will be £15 adults, £9 concession and £3 for kids.
Following Featherstone Rovers’ announcement of the new rugby academy and partnership with Featherstone Technology College, the club are now looking to enrol students who would like to be in a full time rugby league training environment and also do a vocational Btec course in construction, motor vehicle repairs or sport.
For more information contact Lee Crooks at Featherstone Rovers on 01977-702386.