Featherstone Rovers are gearing up for a vital spell of three Kingstone Press Championship fixtures in eight days.
They visit Hunslet Hawks on Sunday and then Bradford Bulls next Wednesday in a re-arranged game before hosting Dewsbury Rams the following Sunday (July 5).
“It’s a massive spell for us,” said Rovers coach Andy Hay.
“We’ve got Hunslet first and we’ll give everything we’ve got because we know it will be a big game and we’ll look at Bradford after that.
“We’ll make sure that everyone goes into the games at least 80 per cent fit. I’m not going to carry anyone on Sunday who is struggling and then we’ll select the team for Wednesday after that.
“If we’ve got a couple of players who come back for the Wednesday game who miss on Sunday it will be great and if we’ve players who can play all three matches and put in a performance it will be even better.
“We need to win on Sunday first and that is the challenge in front of us at the minute and that is what we are focusing on.
“We’ll put out the best team we can. We can’t afford to rest players just because we think it’s Hunslet and then slip up.
“The only reason players won’t play on Sunday is if they are carrying injuries. I can’t afford to rest players and disrupt the team and risk us not getting the points at Hunslet.
“We know we are going tohave a tough game at Hunslet. They’ve their dual reg players and they are not a bad side.”
Rovers are currently fifth, level on points with Halifax with a game in hand but with an inferior points difference.
Hay’s men are 10 points adrift of second-placed Bradford who trounced them 40-4 at Big Fellas Stadium in March.
“Bradford have got a match this Sunday and so have we. It will be interesting to see how far we have come since we last played them,” added Hay.
“It’s our game in hand and it would be great to get something out of that because it’s going to be a difficult one. We’ve had the game in hand for a while and it would push us into that fourth spot if we could get some points out of it.
“We’ve got to look after our own performances and keep picking up points.
“There are teams around us that play each other and we’ve got Bradford and then Dewsbury, Leigh and Sheffield which are tough games.
“I think it will probably come down the last game of the season again like it did last year with the top two finish.
“I think there’s going to be some twists and turns before the end of the year.
“London play Halifax this week so someone has got lose points there and someone has to carry on winning.
“We just have to look after ourselves. There is a good feeling around the boys. We know the games are going to come thick and fast and they are going to become tougher and tougher but we are not in a bad position and we are still confident we can get the job done.
“Our away record has been great this season so we want to carry that on.
“We don’t talk too much about home and away - it just seems to have dropped like that. Maybe the boys are more relaxed away from home and don’t feel as much pressure.
“I’m sure there will be plenty of fans travelling to Hunslet and plenty going to Bradford as well. They will be getting behind us.”
Rovers prop Andy Bostock will be out for up to two months after he broke his right arm in Friday’s 54-14 win against Doncaster.
“It was very disappointing because Andy has been very good for us this year,” said Hay.
“He has only missed one game and that was against Halifax which was due to sickness. He told me he was devastated to miss that game because he’d set a target of playing every match this year.
“He’s been a good performer for us throughout the season and one of the stand-out forwards. It’s a big loss for us.
“We’ve got players in and around and on the fringes. Ryan Verlinden hasn’t featured for the last couple of weeks and he played in the reserves on Saturday and Jack Ormondroyd played in the reserves last weekend as well so we’ve got players who can jump in. We’ve still got concerns over Remy Marginet’s knee. Reni Maitua and Jack Bussey have hamstring injuries. I don’t think they are major concerns but we’ll take every precaution with them.
“We’ve three games coming up so we have to figure out how best to utilise every player.”
Rovers have received an allocation of tickets for Wednesday’s game against Bradford at the Provident Stadium (8pm). Theytickets are available online at http://feathers.rlstore.co.uk/category/Tickets, to personal callers to the main office at Big Fellas Stadium and by telephone on 01977-702386.
Featherstone Rovers commercial manager Paul Taylor said: “We’ve got a very important week approaching with away trips to Hunslet Hawks and Bradford Bulls, culminating in Dewsbury Rams at home on Sunday, July 5.
“Rovers fans are famed for their vocal support and we expect no different over the next three games.
“We’ve received an allocation of tickets from Bradford and we’d encourage as many supporters as possible to purchase their tickets directly from us as we’ll be receiving a percentage of the sales and would like to see the Capper Army out in force.
“Admission on the evening is £2 more so you’re saving money at the same time as supporting Rovers.”
The ticket prices (terracing only) for the Provident Stadium are: Adult (25-64 years): £20. Concession (65 plus): £15. Young adult (18-24): £15. Youth (11-18): £10. Junior (5-11): £3. Baby (0-4 years) and junior members: free of charge.
Junior season ticket holders must have a ticket before entering the ground. They will not be granted access with just the voucher out of a book or their season ticket.
Supporters wishing to purchase seating tickets at the Provident Stadium must call the Bradford Bulls ticket Hotline on 08448 711490.
Rovers hold their academy awards dinner in the Cappers Bar tonight (Friday).
On Saturday and Sunday, the Yorkshire Continuation and Challenge Cup finals will be staged at Big Fellas Stadium. The matches on both days kick off at 10.30am, 11.45am, 1.15pm and 1.45pm. Admission on each day is £2 adults and £1 concessions.
Two of Sunday’s finals involve local teams. They are the under 12s match between Featherstone Lions and East Leeds (10.30) and the under 15s game between Lock Lane and Siddal (2.30).
The Rovers player of the month awards night and fans forum will be held in the Cappers Bar next Monday evening (7pm).
Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are E Graham (B3810), S Pickersgill (O4493), C Draper (E6770), M Bedford (Q3507), D Ellam (Q5092). £5 consolation prizes: Mrs Lancaster (V3031), B Draper (V1808), Mrs Gatecliffe (V3052).