Two Rovers signings set for home debuts

Garreth Carvell made his first Featherstone appearance at Whitehaven last Sunday. Picture: James Hardisty.

Garreth Carvell made his first Featherstone appearance at Whitehaven last Sunday. Picture: James Hardisty.

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Major signings Reni Maitua and Garreth Carvell are set to make their Featherstone Rovers home debuts against Workington Town on Sunday.

Former Australia and Samoa international Maitua has helped Rovers achieve successive away wins at Batley, North Wales and Whitehaven since he arrived earlier this month.

Experienced prop Carvell made his first Rovers appearance at Whitehaven last Sunday after joining them in January on a two-year contract.

“It will be great for the home fans to have a look at Reni and Garreth,” said Rovers coach Andy Hay.

“They are two big guys and two big names. Hopefully, we’ll get some fans down to see them play.

“Reni has been out and about in the community. He’s been visiting businesses with Paul Taylor from our commercial department. That was part of his role in bringing him to Featherstone so he could raise the club’s profile.”

Carvell, who played for Castleford Tigers last season, has been troubled by a knee injury but Rovers hope any surgery can be delayed until the end of the season.

“Garreth came on at Whitehaven and played really well. He’s only going to get better and better when he plays more games,” added Hay.

“He will need something doing with his knee. It’s just whether we can manage it until he does need it doing and hopefully that will be the end of the season. He’s going to play as long as he can.

“It was a late call last Saturday and Sunday to see if he was ready to play and he was. It’s now onwards and upwards because he’s come through the game fine.

“We are managing him but it’s all about getting him playing on a weekend. He is going to be a big asset if we can keep him fit. It’s a good time for us. We needed some bodies on board and he is certainly a big figure who has been there and has the experience.”

Rovers have won all their away games this season but they have not yet won at Big Fellas Stadium and they hope to put that right against Workington this Sunday.

The Cumbrians, who have won just once at Featherstone in the last 61 years, are third bottom after losing at home to Hunslet Hawks last weekend.

Hay said: “We need to pick up more wins and Sunday’s game is massive. They are all important games this year but this is a very important match for different reasons.

“It’s a home game against a team we are probably expected to beat and they can be awkward fixtures but we are confident and the players are talking about wanting to put on a performance for the home fans.

“Workington have been up and down a bit this season and suffered what was probably a shock defeat against Hunslet so I’m sure they will be looking for an improvement.

“If we can keep our discipline and look after the ball we will be better.

“Some players are still making fundemental errors which are killing us. We’ve got to put an 80-minute performance together and Workington will be a different challenge this Sunday.”

James Mendeika made his comeback after major knee surgery at Whitehaven and Sam Irwin, Remy Marginet and Will Sharp could be available again this weekend.

Hay said: “James Mendeika went all right in his first game back. He will be disappointed with some of his efforts - he dropped a catch that led to one of Whitehaven’s tries - but he’s now got the first game under his belt and he’ll be able to kick on from there.

“We’ve got the scan rresults back for Sam Irwin and he’s got the all clear. There is no tear in his bicep and we hope he will be in contention for this weekend. It’s the same with Remy Marginet. He had a niggle and we are managing him and hopefully he’ll be back.

“Will Sharp has taken a couple of knocks. The way he plays you’d expect him to get a few bumps.

“We are just managing the group so we can keep players fresh for the tough spell we’ve got coming up.”

Hay was pleased with Featherstone’s second-half performance at Whitehaven.

Trailing 12-10 at half-time, Rovers scored 26 unanswered second-half points.

“We conceded two soft tries but apart from that we defended very well. There was a big improvement in our goallinre defence from the previous week,” said the Rovers boss.

“Our penalty count was up in the first-half and that kept Whitehaven in the game.

“We knew we had a lot to do at half-time but it was in our control and we knew if we could get an improvement in the second-half we’d be a lot better.

“Once we found our groove in the game we performed very well but we can’t keep doing it like that because it will catch up with us. There are better teams out there who will make us pay if we don’t look after the ball throughout the game.”

Featherstone’s Challenge Cup tie against Catalans Dragons in Perpignan will be on Sunday, May 17 (5pm kick-off)

Hay said: “French TV are televising the match so that’s why Catalan requested it for that day and time.

“It’s not ideal for us and it’s a tough trip but we are looking forward to it and some of the boys will get experience of playing over there because it’s very different.”

Rovers have to find a new date for their Championship fixture at Bradford which has been postponed because of the Catalans match.

“We are talking various dates to come up with one that suits us both,” added Hay.

“Bradford wanted to play in May which we can’t do because of the fixtures we’ve got and the away trips so we are looking at probably early June.”

Rovers under 16s host Hull Kingston Rovers on Saturday (1pm kick-off). Admission is £3 adults and £1 concessions/juniors.

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