Rovers look for upset in derby clash

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FEATHERSTONE'S part-time players have booked a day's holiday on the eve of their Carnegie Challenge Cup clash with Super League neighbours Castleford to improve their chances of producing an upset.

The Championship outfit have four players who are employed by the club to work in the community but the rest have jobs away from the game and train in the evenings to prepare for matches.

For Saturday's Cup tie at the Bigfellas Stadium, Rovers coach Daryl Powell (pictured) has organised a light training session for Friday and will then order his players to put their feet up to get ready for their eagerly-anticipated fourth-round derby with Ian Millward's men.

"Most work full-time and some of them have pretty physical jobs," said Powell. "They have had to put in for a day's holiday but the club have contributed as well.

"We'll have a light training session and then some rest to give the players the best possible preparation."

The mining village of Featherstone has been gripped by Cup fever ever since the draw paired them with their arch rivals and Sky Sports have chosen the tie for their first live televised Challenge Cup game.

Powell believes the tie has been a distraction for his players, who conceded 60 points in their Grand Final re-match at home to Sheffield Eagles last Saturday.

"That doesn't happen to us too often," he said. "We gave away five tries with loose passes. You just don't know but I'd like to think the Cup tie was partly responsible for that.

"Obviously we can now focus on the Castleford game. We know it's a massive challenge and that we will have to acquit ourselves outstandingly well.

"There is plenty of motivation. It couldn't come any bigger than Castleford in the Challenge Cup, it's pretty exciting."

Tom Saxton, Andy Kain, Jon Hepworth, Tim Spears, Dominic Maloney and Anthony England will all have additional motivation to get the win, having played for Castleford in the past.

"There's quite a bit of a link there," said Powell, who played most of his career with Sheffield despite coming from West Yorkshire.

Powell guided Leeds to the 2003 Challenge Cup final but appreciates the size of his task as he attempts to repeat the feat with 200-1 outsiders Featherstone, who enjoyed the last of their three Wembley triumphs in 1983, long before the advent of Super League.

"The Challenge Cup is full of historical victories that weren't expected," he said.

"I know Ian Millward has stated he wants a good Cup run and, when the draw was made, Cas were going through a pretty tough period. They obviously saw this as a dangerous game.

"I've watched their last three games. They're defensively tough and there's a fair spirit down there. They've obviously got some significant players not only in Super League but players who are top-line internationals.

"We need every one of our players to be at the top of their game if we are to compete."

The Tigers are expected to be near to full strength after Millward opted to rest a host of regulars, including reigning Man of Steel Rangi Chase and his half-back partner Danny Orr, for their Easter Monday game against St Helens.

"I expect the majority of them to come back but we'll see," said Millward. "The physio is working really hard because it's vital we win that Challenge Cup game.

"We're not going there to be intimidated, we're going there to win and it's really important we take our best team."