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Featherstone Rovers: Boss Duffy determined to sign off season on a high

John Duffy.
John Duffy.

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS will be aiming to end a tough year on a high when they play host to Leigh Centurions in the Betfred Championship Shield final tomorrow (3pm).

Rovers narrowly missed out on a place in the Qualifiers, but have won all seven of their Shield fixtures to finish top of the table, six points clear of second-placed Leigh. “It’s would be nice to end with a smile and to see the players enjoy getting something for the fans,” said Rovers coach John Duffy.

“They have been fantastic all year. We’ve done it tough after Easter with injuries and it just shows the character of the group. We’ve had some fantastic wins and just missed out on the top-four by a point.

“We had 16 players at Toronto and we played Leigh with 14 and to win every game in the Shield, I am really proud of the players and the way they’ve approached it. I will be sad to see some of them move on.”

Duffy signed a contract extension, to the end of 2020, in April, but revealed that hinged on Rovers securing a top-four spot. “I’m waiting for the club to speak to me at the moment,” he said.

“Hopefully it will come after this last game and we can get something sorted out. I’d like to stay, I have loved every minute of it.”

Both teams have been granted dispensation to sign academy players, without Super League experience, on loan for the final. Rovers have struggled for numbers since the end of the regular season and Leigh fielded only 13 in last week’s league defeat at Dewsbury Rams.

Duffy said: “We’ll just look after ourselves. We’ve been doing it tough for the last two months and I was a bit disappointed we got two players – John Davies and Anthony Thackeray – banned in the week.

“Anthony’s came after last Sunday’s game. Normally they leave it until the week after, but because it’s the last week of the season they did it straight away. I am really disappointed and upset for John and Anthony because they’ve been two very good players and really consistent for us this season.”

Leeds Rhinos academy forwards Muizz Mustapha, James Barraclough and Tyler Dupree have signed for Rovers on emergency loan and are in tomorrow’s squad along with Harry Newman, but Luke Briscoe is injured.