Rovers ready for tough first match

Leigh Centurions have signed Sean Penkywicz from Halifax.
Leigh Centurions have signed Sean Penkywicz from Halifax.

Featherstone coach Daryl Powell expects a tough test in Sunday’s opening Championship game against Leigh Centurions at Big Fellas Stadium.

Leigh have strengthened by signing Sean Penkywicz (from Halifax), Martin Aspinwall (Hull), Simon Finnigan and Thomas Coyle (both Widnes) and Ryan Duffy (Warrington) .

The Centurions, runners up to Rovers in the table for the last two seasons, won both their pre-season matches, beating a young Wigan team 30-6 and Swinton Lions 16-6.

Powell said: “It will be tough for us on Sunday. We are at home which is good from our point of view but we know Leigh have had a good pre-season and they have recruited well so they will come here with a real attitude of wanting to start well themselves.

“They’ve signed some key players. Sean Penkwicz has been a threat in the Championship for a number of years and he is difficult to play against. You’ve got to be right on your game round the ruck area because he’s very quick and any lapses and he tends to find them out.

“When we’ve played Leigh early on in the season in the Northern Rail Cup they’ve beaten us a couple of times.

“In the recent past, they’ve been particularly strong early in the season and then dropped away at the back end a couple of times.

“We need to be aware they prepare a certain way and they get themselves ready for the start of the season.

“We’ve got to make sure we stiffen up against that and make sure we’re really good as well. Our preparations have been good so there is no reason why we won’t be.”

Rovers are aiming to lift the League Leaders’ Shield for the fourth year running and Powell knows opponents will raise their game against them.

“I think we’ve got to use that as motivation and fight back. You’ve got to come back with a tough mentality and be prepared for teams to be raising their game against you,” he added.