DARYL Powell says Featherstone have “nothing to lose” in Sunday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup fifth round tie against Super Leaguers St Helens at Stobart Stadium, Halton.
And the Rovers boss believes his side can take confidence from their battling performance in last season’s fourth round tie at Warrington Wolves. Rovers lost 48-24 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium but they gave a magnificent account of themselves after being 16-0 down after just eight minutes.
“We want to go there this Sunday and play positively, enjoy ourselves and challenge them a bit,” said Powell.
“I think last year’s game at Warrington will have given us confidence in the way we went about it.
“Obviously, there were periods in the game where Warrington dominated us a bit but there were also large periods of the match where you couldn’t really tell the difference between the two teams.
“Although St Helens have some injuries, they are obviously still a pretty talented team, but we have nothing to lose to be honest. We can go there to play and see where it takes us.
“It’s a one-off and we just need to get the right mentality and go there with a slightly different mindset and enjoy ourselves. You get stuck in the grind of your league season at times and it’s very important you are consistent but is this something that will take us away from that and help freshen us up.
“Obviously, the way we defend against Saints and their pace and quality of player will be absolutely crucial.”
Rovers will be without Tony Tonks, Tommy Saxton, Nathan Chappell, Andy Kain and Kirk Netherton on Sunday.
Tonks had a minor knee operation on Tuesday and will be sidelined for about a month.
Tommy Saxton is out with a broken thumb and Nathan Chapell saw a specialist on Monday about a knee injury.
New signing Netherton is cup-tied after playing for Widnes in their third round win against amateurs Siddal.
Kain is set to be rested after playing with a groin injury in recent weeks.
Powell said: “Andy Kain has been struggling with an injury for a few weeks so I am going to have to leave him out. It has been touch and go for the last few weeks whether Andy has played. I felt the Halifax match was a really big game for us and we needed to get the three points so I asked him to play and he put his body on the line but I think he should now have a breather.”
Powell is delighted with the form of Mick Haley who was out for over two months after sustaining a serious groin injury in the 28-22 win at Barrow Raiders in February.
He said: “He’s come back from injury really well. I like the direct way he plays the game. He’s fantastic at prop because his go forward is good and he’s got a real tough edge to him. I am really pleased with the way he’s going on the moment.”
Young prop Dominic Dee, a close season signing from Hull Kingston Rovers, has joined Doncaster on a month’s loan.
Dee has made four substitute appearances for Featherstone this season.
Powell said: “Obviously, he wasn’t getting in the first team and I wanted him to play at a higher level than our reserves. He’s gone to Doncaster and we’ll review it after a month.”
Rovers, who stretched their unbeaten run to nine matches by beating Halifax last weekend, are second in the table, three points behind leaders Leigh Centurions.
“We are nearly half way through the season now and I think we’ve done reasonably well but I still think there’s loads of improvement in us,” said Powell.
“We’ve been getting the consistency in results and we are now looking for consistency in performances, which we are getting in the big matches. It’s just a case of keeping working on getting a little bit better in everything we are doing.
“We don’t have any problems getting over the whitewash. We can score points, there’s no doubt about that, although I thought we could have executed a little better last weekend.”
Powell was delighted with the performances of the club’s under 18 and under 16 academy teams in matches against Leeds Rhinos.
The under 18s were pipped 32-27 by a last gasp try and the under 16s were edged out 34-28 after dominating the second-half.
Powell said: “The under 18s were desperately unlucky to lose. I thought they were by far the better team in the second-half and they were ahead with a couple of minutes to go.
“It was fantastic to see them do as well as they did and really apply themselves to the tough elements of playing rugby.
“They scored some smart tries and I was really pleased with them. I hope they continue to play like that and I think the confidence they get from that performnance should help them to do that.
“The under 16s were excellent in the second-half and they could easily have won that game.
“Leeds had about six or seven England players on the field so we were competing against quality players.
“Leeds beat us convincingly last year at that age group so there has been a marked improvement in our young players in one year. They are the next lads on the rank in terms of signing on at the club and they did themselves a massive amount of good individually and collectively in that game.”
Featherstone’s home league match against Widnes, postponed because both clubs are involved in the Challenge Cup this weekend, has been re-arranged for Wednesday, August 17 (8pm).