Coach Duffy hopes debutant Hock can bring ‘passion and aggression’ to Featherstone

John Duffy: "It is chance to give some of our lads a bit more game time."
John Duffy: "It is chance to give some of our lads a bit more game time."

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS boss John Duffy will be keeping an eye on both sets of players when his team close their pre-season campaign at home to partner club Leeds Rhinos tonight.

Rovers have a dual-registration arrangement with Rhinos and some of the Leeds men on duty could be made available for Duffy during the Betfred Championship season which kicks off next weekend.

Duffy said: “It’s really exciting for me as coach, playing against our dual-registration club, having a look at the talent they’ve got at their club and seeing what could be available for Featherstone this year.

“It doesn’t matter who they put out, they are going to be a really good side, a really well-coached side and well-drilled. It will be a massive test for us, our biggest test and we’re looking forward to seeing how we cope with that.”

Rovers are unbeaten in pre-season - after wins over Castleford Tigers, Halifax and York City Knights - and tonight is the final opportunity to try things before round one.

“Also, on our side of things, it is chance to give some of our lads a bit more game time,” added Duffy, who is without only Anthony Thackeray and long-term casualties Jason Walton (knee) and Chris Ulugia (shoulder).

“Obviously we’ve got a big start next week with our league campaign so I am excited about it.”

There will be some nerves mixed in there, with just nine days until the serious business begins when Rovers play host to Halifax. Duffy stressed: “We don’t want to get any injuries.

“You are always nervous through pre-season.

“Anthony Thackeray has concussion so he won’t play, but he will be right for our first league game and with everyone else it is just fingers crossed.

“I am happy we are playing on a Friday because that gives us an extra couple of days’ recovery, which is good.”

Duffy said he is “excited” to see former Great Britain and England forward Gareth Hock make his first Rovers appearance following his move from Leigh Centurions.

“He has been there and done it all,” said the Rovers coach. “He has been phenomenal through his career and hopefully he can bring that passion and aggression to Featherstone. I can’t wait to see him walk out in a Fev shirt.”