Spears makes Rovers return against Keighley

Jack Bussey returns for tonight's home match against Keighley after recovering from a shoulder injury. PICTURE: BOB NUNN.
Jack Bussey returns for tonight's home match against Keighley after recovering from a shoulder injury. PICTURE: BOB NUNN.

Tim Spears, Jack Bussey and Ben Hellewell have been recalled to Featherstone’s squad for tonight’s Championship game against Keighley Cougars at Big Fellas Stadium (7.30pm).

It will be back-rower Spears’ first senior appearance this year following close-season shoulder surgery.

Bussey returns after recovering from a shoulder injury and former Warrington Wolves player Hellewell could replace centre Greg Worthington who sustained a dead leg in Sunday’s 45-18 win at Whitehaven.

Rovers coach Daryl Powell is delighted to welcome back Spears who scored three tries in Saturday’s under 20s match against South Wales Scorpions.

“Tim’s talk, energy and enthusiasm among the young players was fantastic last weekend. He has some good leadership qualities,” he said.

“I’ll be pretty cautious with Greg Worthington’s injury. My initial impression is that a dead leg is difficult to shake off in three days. He may not play on Thursday.

“Ben Hellewell is likely to play at centre on Thursday. He’s played quite a few games for us now and got used to the systems. He has played a couple of outstanding matches in the under 20s. He has looked sharp and he knows where the try line is.”

League leaders Rovers have won their first five matches but Powell will not be taking anything for granted against strugglers Keighley.

He said: “Keighley have had a tough start to the season and they were beaten quite heavily by Leigh last weekend but that means they will come here in determined mood.

“It’s important we improve our standards where we can and look to build our momentum which is going well at the moment.

“One thing we are doing is starting games exceptionally well - we were 22-0 up against Whitehaven.

“In some ways that gives the opposition a bit of a licence to play against you because they know they’ve got to do something pretty special to get back in the game.

“We’ve got to be mindful of that and make sure that even though we are starting games well we stay focused on what the opposition may throw at us.”

The Rovers boss was generally happy with Sunday’s display at Whitehaven.

The Cumbrians hit back from 22-0 down to cut the gap to four points but Featherstone finished by far the stronger side.

“After the good start, we gave away a few penalties and we had a couple of 50-50 decisions that went against us that put us under a fair bit of pressure,” said Powell.

“We conceded a couple of softish tries which is something we need to continue to work on. It’s happening to us a little bit too much.

“Whitehaven had five consecutive sets for different reasons and as a result they got back into the game but when we got good field position I thought we were way too good for them so there were loads of positives for us.

“There are still things to work on but we are only five games into the season and you expect that.

“It’s important we continue to improve whilst recognising that we are winning games consistently. On the scoreboard is says we are winning them by decent margins as well.

“We’ll keep working hard to get better - that’s the important thing as this stage of the season.”

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