FORMER Great Britain winger Gareth Raynor will replace Tangi Ropati in Featherstone’s line-up against Swinton Lions at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday (2pm kick-off).
Samoan international Ropati (pictured), a close-season signing from Widnes, will be out for 10 to 12 weeks after he sustained a broken jaw in an incident involving Castleford’s Rangi Chase in Saturday’s Challenge Cup fourth round tie.
Rovers coach Daryl Powell described the incident as “appalling.”
“I went to see Tangi on Tuesday morning and he’s got an horrific injury,” he said.
“He’s broken his jaw in two places and he’s got three plates in his face.
“I’m absolutely devastated for him. It was a massively disappointing incident in the game and he’s got a really bad injury.
“I know the RFL looked at it but I’m not sure they got the grading of the offence right to be honest.
“It was a clear elbow to his jaw. It’s appalling and it has got no place on a rugby league field.
“Tangi was playing really well and he’s a great kid. He’s fitted in so quickly and neatly and I’m hugely disappointed for him. He scored a great try at the weekend and for something like that to happen is hugely disappointing.”
Raynor made his Rovers debut against Dewsbury in the Northern Rail Cup group stages in February but he then took a break from the game for personal reasons before returning to training last week.
He will now be aiming to stake his claim for a place in the Rovers team for their Challenge Cup tie against Wigan Warriors on April 27.
Powell said: “We gave Gareth a bit of time away just to clear his head and make sure he could fully commit.
“I think he’s ready to do that so it’s over to him now. And he’s got a point to prove. He’s come back into the club looking to get into the team and show us what he’s got. He’ll get an opportunity to do that this weekend.”
Rovers will also be without Matty Dale against Swinton. He will be sidelined for upto a month with strained medial knee ligaments but Anthony England could be back after missing the Castleford game with an arm injury.
Rovers will be looking to put their league campaign back on track this weekend after losing to Sheffield Eagles 60-40 in their last league fixture.
Powell wants his players to stay focused after their stunning cup victory over Castleford last Saturday.
“The key thing for us is to get ourselves back down to earth and focus on Swinton and what they’ll be coming at us with,” he said.
“Swinton have been scoring a lot of points recently and they had a really good result against Batley a couple of weeks ago so they are coming to terms with the Championship. Anything less than our best is going to be dangerous for us so we need to be really focused.”
Powell added: “We have got to avoid being distracted by the Wigan game. It is difficult because the Challenge Cup tie is only a couple of weeks away but you can only play one game at a time and we need to get right back down to the nuts and bolts of our game and make sure that we get everything right.
“It was a strange old game against Sheffield and I don’t think we’ll come up with a performance like that again this season but I think we’ve learned from that and I think the players recognised what had happened. If we learn from it, it’s not going to happen again.
“We are not going to talk too much about Sheffield. It’s about building on what we achieved last week and from a performance point of view making sure we are really solid.
“Swinton have some good players. They’ve recruited quite a few from Leigh and, of course, they are playing their home matches at Leigh this year.
“They’ve got a fair bit of pace. They’ve Ian Watson playing at half-back who is a pretty good player and David Mills at prop who is a huge guy. They looked pretty good as a team. I watched them a couple of weeks ago against Dewsbury and they challenged them particularly later in the game and they look a fit side.”
Powell was delighted with the outcome on and off the field against Castleford last Saturday.
“From a performance point of view we were excellent. They rattled us early and we managed to overcome that,” he said.
“We performed outstandingly well in the first-half and then our defensive effort was sensational in the second half when we were under real pressure.
“Off the field, we had a good crowd and everything went well. I thought both sets of fans behaved well and that’s what we were all after.”
Rovers reserves host Keighley Cougars in a Reserves/Under 23s Championship match at Bigfellas Stadium tonight (8pm).
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