Dale set to be back for Toulouse clash

Matty Dale has recovered from a calf injury.
Matty Dale has recovered from a calf injury.

FEATHERSTONE’S injury problems have eased ahead of tomorrow’s Co-operative Championship game at Toulouse Olympique.

Back-rower Dale has recovered from the calf injury that forced him to miss the last two matches and was in the squad that jetted to France today (Friday).

Rovers coach Daryl Powell said: “Matty has done everything in training. He has looked pretty comfortable and I am happy he is ready to go.”

Iain Morrison made his comeback from a broken finger in last week’s win at Halifax and fellow prop Ross Divorty is close to returning after being out for two months with a knee injury.

Powell said: “Ross Divorty has been given the all clear to get back into contact so he’ll have a couple of contact sessions and then he should be available.

“He won’t play this weekend but he should be available from the week after. He’ll need to get some reserves game time under his belt and then we’ll see where he is at.

“Iain Morrison has been pretty unlucky with injuries and I’m hoping he is now going to get a good run and he can settle his game down and get match fit.

“He showed in the second-half against Halifax he will be able to add a massive amount to us especially when he’s fit and he is feeling really good about his ability to be out there for a little bit longer.”

Prop Dave Williams, signed on a dual registration from Harlequins, sustained a broken nose at Halifax but he is okay for the trip to France.

“Dave is a tough kid and he’s been good for us while we’ve been really down on numbers,” said Powell.

“He has worked well and got to grips with the way we play. I’ve been really pleased with him.”

Centre Liam Welham (knee) and prop Mick Haley (groin) will be out for several more weeks.

Powell was pleased with the debut of former Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos player Jonny Hepworth in the win at Halifax. Hepworth has joined Rovers on a two-year deal from Rotherham Titans rugby union club.

Powell said: “Jonny was keen to get back into rugby league as quickly as he could. Obviously, he wasn’t going to be at Rotherham next year. I think it had become difficult for Rotherham to qualify for the next stage of the play-offs so it made sense that he could move on with the next stage of his career and Rotherham could focus on next year and bring some young players in and try them.

“Jonny is an intelligent kid and he slotted in really well against Halifax. I was impressed how easily he found it to slot into the way we are doing things.

“I see Jonny as a number six with us. As we saw against Halifax, it allowed us the freedom to put Andy Kain to number nine and sharpen our game up there.

“Ben Kaye gave us a good platform and then Andy Kain came on and made things quick and that’s a good thing to be able to do. We had been missing the ability to put Andy Kain at nine because obviously we had lost Kyle Briggs and we hadn’t replaced him.”

Powell was delighted with Featherstone’s second-half display at Halifax when they came back from 20-12 down to win 32-20.

He said: “We really got to grips with the game and we stepped up to the challenge that Halifax had set us in the first-half.

“We came out on top which was pretty important to us. It was a crucial match. Games are usually not that important so early in the season but I think that one was. We needed to come up with a performance in the second-half to get the result.

“We’d had a really short turn round and we’d had only one training session leading into the game, Monday night was a recovery session and then we trained on Wednesday night. To say we hadn’t had much time to have a look at Halifax and prepare for the game we did pretty well.

“I thought we looked the fitter team in the second-half which is pretty pleasing. Obviously, it’s something we’ve worked hard on in pre-season and we are are looking to maintain those levels.

“We now need to be consistent, there’s no doubt about that.

“We have some tough challenges coming up and there’s a couple of competitions mixed in with the league fixtures.

“It’s a case of taking a game at a time and keeping on chalking them off and trying to improve our ability to take teams apart and defend strongly.”

Rovers are seeking to complete a hat-trick of away victories against Toulouse.

Said Powell: “While I’ve been coach at Featherstone, we’ve had a 50 per cent record against them. We’ve won both our away games and lost both our home matches against them.

“They’ve changed a little bit this year. I know Cook is injured and Mitchell isn’t there. Scrum-half Wynne, who has caused us a lot of trouble, is also no longer there so it will be interesting to see how they’ve adapted to losing a couple of key players.

“Toulouse were beaten at Sheffield last week but the last time they were at home they had a good win against Halifax so it will be a challenge for us.

“We know what we need to do. It’s always difficult when you are flying over early on the Friday morning so we need to be mindful of that and look after ourselves and prepare as well as we can and hopefully come up with the result we need.”

Meanwhile, Rovers are moving closer to appointing a new chief executive. The first candidates were interviewed last weekend.

Rovers director Martin Overton said: “I was amazed at the number of applicants we have had for this job and the applications are still coming in. It’s a complex and challenging post, but this seems to have attracted candidates - the right kind of candidates rather than deter them. We are determined to make the right appointment.”

Latest £500 winners in the Rovers treasure chest lottery are P Flint (I4471), R Berwick (F4150), B Duffy (B0017), D Ingham (C4634), C Wright (H1532). Travellers Rest meal voucher: B Draper (W3112).