Rovers coach looking to strengthen squad

Prop Steve Crossley in action in his farewell Featherstone apppearance in last Sunday's Grand Final before he joins Castleford. Picture: Bob Nunn.
Prop Steve Crossley in action in his farewell Featherstone apppearance in last Sunday's Grand Final before he joins Castleford. Picture: Bob Nunn.

Featherstone Rovers coach Andy Hay is working hard to beef up his squad for next season.

Rovers ended the 2014 campaign with Sunday’s 36-12 defeat against Leigh in the Championship Grand Final and Hay wants to make sure his team can compete with the Centurions and relegated sides Bradford and London when rugby league’s new structure starts next year.

“Most of my work now is trying to get in the right players for the right blend we need in the team,” he said.

“I’ll be constantly chasing players and trying to nail down some targets that we are after.

“We are losing Steve Crossley and a couple more forwards so we need to improve the front row and we are looking at outside backs as well.

“We’ve brought in a couple of players already but we need more pressure on positions. Injuries haven’t helped us this season and we’ve had probably the same team for the last 10 weeks.

“There’s an opportunity for me to build and bring in new players and freshen us up a little bit and raise the intensity at training and around the club.

“We need to bring in quality Super League players if want to compete with Leigh, Bradford and London next season. It will be tough again next year and it’s all about the top four.

“With the recruitment, we’ll also be bringing in a couple of good young players who we have already targeted. They’ll be additions to the first-team squad.

“We need them to push the senior guys and keep them on their toes.

“Young players just want to play and they have no fear when they do play and we need that attitude.

“Everyone is talking about Bradford, London and Leigh being full time teams so that leaves one other spot and I want us to have a good enough squad not to be just aiming for that one spot. To do that we need a stronger squad.

“At this moment in time it’s not financially viable for us to go full-time yet and we can’t throw everything into one season.”

Hay is looking forward to his first pre-season at Featherstone after taking over as head coach in May.

Most of the senior players will report back for training the second week in November.

“I think it will be massive to have a pre-season with the players,” he added.

“I am not knocking anything that went on this year but we’ve got a good facility in our Centre of Excellence and we are going to make the most of it.

“It’s been good that I’ve been here at the back end of this season because it’s given me an insight into what we need to do.

“I know the players now and any new player I’m signing I’ll also know so we can hit the ground running in November.

“We’ll be training pretty hard and the players will have to get used to that.

“Some of the stuff I tried to do when I came in this year I don’t think the players were prepared for it and we need to be better prepared in pre-season.

“It’s been tough this season but I knew what was expected of me and I’ve enjoyed my time here so far.

“There’s a lot of progression to be made next year. The new stands should be open and they are re-laying the pitch at the top end so it will be a full length field.

“Off the field, the club is going forward and on the field we need to improve and that’s not just with new players but with the players we’ve already got.

“They need to up their game and improve across the board.”