Duffy looking forward to seeing Rovers in action in first warm-up game

John Duffy: "The pre-season games are massive for us. "
John Duffy: "The pre-season games are massive for us. "

COACH John Duffy is looking forward to seeing how Featherstone Rovers perform in their first warm-up fixture at Castleford on Boxing Day.

All Featherstone’s new signings are set to feature against last season’s Super League Leaders’ Shield winners Castleford.

New recruits Martyn Ridyard, Shaun Robinson, Tom Holmes and Scott Wheeldon are set to play along with Connor Farrell and Sam Brooks who have signed new permanent deals after ending last season playing for Featherstone.

“It will be good to see how we go in both attack and defence against Super League opposition in our first game,” said Duffy.

“We’ll see how our structures go. We’ve been working hard on those. We are really looking forward to playing Castleford.

“The lads are working hard in training and progressing really well. They are all buying in and looking really fit.

“Their attitude has been first-class and I’m just looking forward now to see how we can perform.

“The new players have blended in really well and it’s like they’ve been here quite a while so I’m also looking forward to seeing how they go.

“The pre-season games are massive for us. It will be a good marker for us on Boxing Day to see where we are at and what we need to do and fix up going into the other friendlies in the New Year.”

The Boxing Day game will give Duffy his first chance to look at a new half-back combination with former Leigh star Ridyard, ex-Castleford player Holmes and Anthony Thackeray vying for places in the halves.

Thackeray, who joined Rovers from Dewsbury Rams on a three-year contract in October, 2015, believes competition for places is “vital and healthy.”

“There are obviously more pivots and more selection in each position now so it’s keeping everyone on their toes,” said Thackeray.

“Hopefully, all the pivots can work together really well and obviously the boys who have come in are class.

“Briggsy (Kyle Briggs) was good last year. Unfortunately, he had a few injuries he had to deal with but hopefully with a full pre-season training together we can get the combinations going and it will go pretty well.

“Strength in depth in key positions is vital and it’s healthy.

“I’m just going to go out there and play my own game. Duffs (John Duffy) has spoken to the halves about playing a bit more off the cuff stuff which suits me so hopefully there will be some exiting rugby to come.”

After visiting Castleford, Rovers have three pre-season home matches in January.

They host Halifax on Sunday, January 14, York City Knights on Sunday, January 21, and Leeds Rhinos on Friday, January 26.

Standard admission prices will be £10 adults, £8 concessionns and £5 juniors.

Members-only bundle packanges are available for all three games, priced £25 adults, £20 concessions and £10 juniors.

Tickets can be purchased at the Rovers store or by calling 01977-702386 during normal office hours.

Meanwhile, the annual Rovers Christmas dinner at LD Nutrition last Friday was a huge success.

It was attended by sponsors and supporters.

The main guest was Leeds boxing star Josh Warrington who is unbeaten in 26 fights, with six knock-outs.

Warrington, who will fight Welshman Lee Selby next year for the world featherweight title, said: “I very much enjoyed what was a brilliant occasion - away from the sweaty boxing gym.

“It was something different for me and it was fantastic to be in Featherstone. I have a strong fanbase here and I get a lot of support from the town when I am fighting. I am sure the Rovers supporters and sponsors had a good time. They, like the team, will now be looking forward to the season’s start. I am a huge rugby league fan and wish the Rovers team well for what should be a great year in 2018.”