COACH Daryl Powell believes Featherstone’s Challenge Cup exploits this season have greatly enhanced the club’s reputation.
After beating Castleford Tigers 23-16 at Bigfellas Stadium in the fourth round, Rovers gave another magnificent account of themselves when they hosted Wigan Warriors in Friday’s fifth round tie.
Rovers pushed cup holders Wigan all the way before slipping to a 32-16 defeat.
Featherstone’s outstanding performances against the two Super League clubs have given a big lift to the club’s bid for a Super League licence in 2014.
“I think the Challenge Cup has done the club a huge amount of good,” said Powell (pictured).
“Obviously, the profile of the club has gone up significantly over the last six or seven weeks since we drew Castleford in the fourth round.
“I think the performance of the club in general in hosting two big games against Castleford and Wigan has been great. I think reputation-wise it has done a massive amount for us.”
Rovers chief executive Craig Poskitt and chairman Mark Campbell are also delighted with the boost the club received from the two home cup ties, which were both televised live on Sky Sports.
Mr Poskitt said: “The club defied the odds to take Wigan all the way. I am proud of our progress in such a short period of time. The performances will have been noted by all in rugby league and we felt the weight and support of the neutral fan, who must have enjoyed the entertainment on Sky Sports.
“We hope we did the sporting world proud by showing David can fight Goliath over 80 minutes. I would like to thanks our fans, my staff and the players for making the night so special. I’d also like to thank our sponsors who have rallied around the club and the additional weight is clearly showing in the player’s confidence. It is clear we have a strong team on and off the field and we can only progress from here. We are barely scratching the surface based on the developments being made behind the scenes.”
Mr Campbell said: “The fans, players, staff were brilliant. I’d like to thank everyone for their support including Sky Sports and all local and national media who have made this club feel special once again.
“We have big hearts at Featherstone, much passion and to be able to achieve what the everyone is witnessing is great testimony that much hard work is starting to pay dividends.
“To be 10 points behind the champions over 79 minutes shows how close the game was. Our players did well to fight their individual and team battles, we gave it a good go and there were moments in the game where we just needed a bit of luck to create the biggest shock ever witnessed. I’m a proud man and we remain grounded as we haven’t won any trophies this season but we have put this club back on the map and we will now prepare for our domestic campaign to ensure the club continues to dominate rugby league outside the top division. We can only do what is in front of us. For now, that’s the Co-operative Championship and Northern Rail Cup.”
Feisal Nahaboo, founder of Featherstone’s main shirt sponsors Probiz and a member of the club’s Key Strategic Board (SMB), said: “I’m very proud to be associated with Featherstone Rovers and we will continue our investment in the club.
“Featherstone Rovers epitomises stories that the British public love to follow. The club is punching beyond their weight right now but there is so much more to come and potential to realise.
“Support for the club is coming from every media angle and it is clear the club is becoming a neutral fans favourite for the ‘cup upset’ and ‘near cup upset’ they have contributed in.
“Every fan, every official, every player, every coaching staff, every sponsor will stand side-by-side and take this small town with a massive rugby league tradition back into the top flight where the club belongs. We will do everything we can as a unit to progress and a treble has to be in sights to continually show that the club will be ready for its return to big league rugby.
“The Strategic Management Board is developing a strong foundation and strong underpinning for a medium-to-long term growth plan for the club. The club will run like a business with various new income streams and we will shortly announce a list of new strategic partners who are coming in to resource the club and strengthen the club’s chances for a Super League licence.
“This club has a chairman in Mark Campbell with ‘his head screwed on’ and will listen to new strategic developments that can help a club progress with minimal resources. We are getting it right on the pitch which is essential to also getting it right off the pitch.”