NEW signing Ben Cockayne will make his Featherstone Rovers debut in tonight’s televised Co-operative Championship game against Batley Bulldogs at Mount Pleasant (7.30).
Featherstone completed the signing of the 28-year-old Normanton-based utility back on Monday.
He joins them for the rest the season after he left Super League club Hull Kingston Rovers by “mutual consent” following several off-the-field incidents.
Rovers coach Daryl Powell said: “Ben will play in Thursday’s game. It will be his debut and hopefully we will have plenty of people going over to support us and see how Ben goes on and how the team goes on. It’s a big game for us and we are looking forward to it.
“Ben is dangerous in a number of positions and I’m pretty sure he’ll play in a number of positions for us across the season.
“Obviously we are looking at integrating him pretty steadily at first so he can get used to how we go about things but he’s slotted pretty well at training duing the week so I don’t see it being a problem where ever he plays to be honest.
“He’s a class player. The energy, speed and aggression he’s got in his game should add a lot to us.
“I am delighted he’s on board. It really reinforces our challenge to be in the Grand Final and to win it at the end of the season.”
Powell has no worries about signing the controversial Cockayne.
He said: “I have sat down and had a good chat with Ben. He comes across as a good kid.
“What’s happened in the past is in the past and I’m looking at him from a rugby point of view.
“I am looking at Ben and what he does on a rugby field and I’ve no doubt he’ll be fantastic for us. He’s a local lad and I think it’s a good fit for him and a good fit for us.”
Rovers hooker Ben Kaye is available for tonight’s game after the RFL disciplinary committee found he had no case to answer at Tuesday evening’s hearing following his dismissal against Hunslet Hawks earlier this month for alleged use of an elbow.
Powell said: “We are very pleased Ben has got off.
“We had a different video of the incident to the one that the RFL had. With the closer footage you could see more of what happened and it looked very much like a shoulder charge.”
Powell is expecting a tough test against Batley as leaders Featherstone aim to stretch their winning league run to 13 matches and move three points clear of the top of the table. They are currently three points ahead of the Bulldogs who have played two more games than Rovers.
Powell said: “Batley away is always a difficult game. They obviously play the slope to their advantage and you’ve got to be pretty smart the way that you deal with it. It’s going to be a tough one. They lost last time out against Leigh so they are going to be pretty fired up.
“We need to make sure that mentally we are in the right frame of mind. I thought we trained outstandingly well on Monday night and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
The Rovers boss was pleased with the club’s second annual fans day last Sunday.
He said: “It went pretty well. Obviously, the poor weather forecast made things a little difficult but it was good day and that players were fantastic.
“There were plenty of people there and I think they enjoyed it.”
Rovers reserves host Keighley in an under 23/reserves match at Bigfellas Stadium tomorrow (7.30pm). Admission is £3 for adults and £1 concessions.
For a limited period, Rovers are giving fans the chance to become either club vice presidents or members for life.
The vice presidencies cost £1,750 which includes a season ticket for life. There is also free car parking, a free match day programme, entrance to the club’s internationals lounge 90 minutes before kick off and again following the final whistle for a post-match buffet.
It costs £1,250 to become a member for life. It includes a season ticket for life which is valid for all home matches excluding friendlies, cup games and play off matches as is a normal season ticket. The ticket is for life regardless of the level of rugby the club are playing.
For further details contact the club on 01977-702386 or email email@example.com
Rovers are hosting a sportsman’s dinner at Bigfellas Stadium on Friday, August 12 (7.30pm). Special guests will be Leeds United legends Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer. There will be a three-course meal and sports memorabilia auction.
Tickets cost £30 each. Tables of eight and 10 are available. To book contact the club on 01977-702386.
Latest £500 winners in the Rovers lottery are B Holmes (M3232), D Harrison (H2088), M Vassey (I3242), S Glancy (A2752), L Pavis (R1059). Travellers Rest meal voucher: A Thorpe (V4623).