Big crowd expected at Featherstone’s opening game

Rovers coach John Duffy: "As a fan, you'd definitely buy a season ticket this year." Picture: Dec Hayes.
Rovers coach John Duffy: "As a fan, you'd definitely buy a season ticket this year." Picture: Dec Hayes.

FEATHERSTONE Rovers are hoping for a bumper crowd when they take on old rivals Halifax in Sunday’s opening Betfred Championship fixture at LD Nutrition Stadium (3pm).

”The fans have been great coming down to the pre-season friendlies and backing us so we are looking forward to a big crowd this weekend,” said Rovers coach John Duffy.

“As a fan, you’d definitely buy a season ticket this year because there a lot of quality teams in the Championship and it could be the best season yet.”

Featherstone and Halifax have met on six occasions in the last 14 months, with Rovers winning five times including two pre-season victories.

Rovers started the 2017 Championship campaign by winning 32-26 at Halifax and they ended the season with a 26-20 success at The Shay in the Super 8s. They also knocked Halifax out of the Challenge Cup with a 24-12 home win.

Halifax’s solitary victory over Featherstone last season came in the regular season at LD Nutrition Stadium in July when they beat them 28-8 in coach Jon Sharp’s last match in charge of Rovers.

Tickets purchased in advance for Sunday’s game cost £18 adults, £13 concessions and £5 juniors. They are available at the Rovers Store at LD Nutrition Stadium or by calling 01977-702386 during normal office hours. Adult and concession admission prices will rise by £2 on the day of the game.

Sunday’s clash is the first of three home matches in the opening four fixtures for Featherstone who also host Toulouse Olympique on February 11 and Sheffield Eagles on February 25.

Solid home form will be vital for Rovers who have strengthened their squad in the close-season with high-profile signings including former Leigh Centurions pair Martyn Ridyard and Gareth Hock.

Experienced playmaker Ridyard is just the type of player Rovers need to make them tick and his recruitment has been a major coup.

The same can be said about the recent acquisition of former England forward Hock who will bolster an already formidable pack.

Rovers look equipped to do exceptionally well but they will face tough opposition in a highly-competitive Championship.

Leigh Centurions are odds-on favourites to finish top of the table. The parachute payment they have received after being relegated from Super League will be a big help for them.

Toronto Wolfpack look sure to be major contenders in their first Championship season.

With an experienced Championship coach in Paul Rowley and numerous talented players, they should have no difficulty in adapting after winning promottion from League One.

Halifax and Toulouse are also likely to be among Featherstone’s rivals for a top-four spot.

Halifax finished third last year - one place above Rovers - and have a top Championship player in captain Scott Murrell.

Toulouse will again be difficult to beat on home spoil.

They narrowly missed out on the top four last season but again have a strong squad which includes new signing William Barthau from London Broncos.