Campbell praises Rovers for response after missing out on Qualifiers

Mark Campbell with the Championship Shield. Pic: Rob Hare.
Mark Campbell with the Championship Shield. Pic: Rob Hare.

Mark Campbell says he can't praise the Featherstone Rovers players enough for their attitudes and dedication during the Championship Shield.

John Duffy's side missed out on a place in the Qualifiers by a single point but then went on an eight-game winning run that culminated with them lifting the Championship Shield last Sunday.

Rovers beat Leigh Centurions 42-10 in last weekend's final to claim the last-ever Championship Shield ahead of next year's structure changes.

And the Featherstone chairman says the players attitude over the last number of months has been exceptional.

“We all felt a bit flat when we missed out on the top four, but I can’t praise the players enough for the way they responded," he said.

“They got their heads down and set a goal of winning every game in the Championship Shield, then to go on and win the Shield, and they’ve done it.

“That culminated in a fantastic day, which the fans seemed to enjoy and I thoroughly enjoyed.”

The Rovers chairman also felt that winning the Championship Shield was a perfect send-off for some of the clubs departing players.

He added: “It gave some of the players who won’t be with us next year a good send off.

“Ian Hardman’s the first one. What a great career he’s had for us. Great signing. Great lad.

“It was quite sad when he came and told us, even though you always know that day’s going to come.

“We wish him all the best and I’m sure he’ll be successful in whatever he does next.

“Misi Taulapapa’s been fantastic for us. He gives 110% in every game he plays and he’s a great bloke.

“I’m sure Mark Aston thought he’d got the best days out of Misi and yet we’ve had three fantastic seasons out of him.

“I know he’s loved his time at Fev and loved the fans. We wish him all the best too.

“Brooksy (Sam) has had a good second-half of the season. You need to perform for a full year though, and he needs to fulfil his potential, but I’m sure he can be a good player at this level.

“Connor Farrell was obviously a big loss through injury and was an important player for us until that point.

“Keal (Carlile) is a local lad, but I understand he has a family and the deal he has been offered is unbelievable for a club outside of Super League.

“He’s a great lad though, so it’s sad to see him go."

Despite being opposed to the structure changes that will be implemented next season, Campbell says he is excited for the upcoming campaign.

The Championship will be expanded to 14 teams, with the top team in the division guaranteed promotion to Super League.

He said: "I liked The Qualifiers. I think we missed a trick as a sport in not keeping an aspect of that.

“I believe the Championship has bridged the gap to Super League and the results this year have shown that.

“We’ve got to get on with the current situation though and I like the look of the league next year.

“You look at Widnes, Bradford and York coming into the division, which should see some great crowds at the LD Nutrition Stadium.

“Then there’s the guarantee of a Championship team gaining promotion.

“Of all the teams in the division, we’ve got to fancy our chances of making the final and then who knows?

“London showed what can happen in a one-off game.”