Batley Bulldogs v Featherstone Rovers - James Webster preparing for 'unique challenge' in Championship opener at Mount Pleasant

JAMES Webster is preparing his side for a “unique challenge” when they open their 2020 Championship campaign at Batley Bulldogs on Sunday.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 5:46 am
Featherstone Rovers head coach James Webster. PIC: Dec Hayes.

Rovers will face a new-look Batley side who now have Craig Lingard at the helm, following Matt Diskin’s departure as head coach at the end of the 2019 campaign.

Featherstone have won their last seven meetings against the Bulldogs, last losing in the Middle 8 Qualifiers in 2016.

The Bulldogs have faced Huddersfield Giants and Hull FC as part of their pre-season preparations and Webster expects a tough battle, saying: “I always really enjoy going to Batley, it has got a unique part of rugby league history.

“It is the only ground that has that type of atmosphere, like the amphitheatre of the hill.

“It is just different. It surprised me the first time I went there when I was a player and I have always enjoyed going there.

“I personally, really look forward to going to Batley.

“I have watched them against Hull FC already, I thought they did a really good job.

“They are a big, strong and physical team, it is going to be a unique challenge and one we will need to be prepared for.”

Webster is hoping to make full use of the club’s dual-registration partnership with Leeds Rhinos.

The former Hull KR head coach believes that he has a strong side at his disposal without relying on players from Leeds but will look to use the likes of Alex Sutcliffe and Callum McLelland if they are made available.

He said: “Once we get John Davies, Thomas Minns and Dakota Whylie back and Jack Render hasn’t trained a day yet.

“We have had about 10 people who haven’t trained regularly and for them to drip feed in now will make our squad stronger.”