Featherstone Rovers set to sign two World Cup players as part of squad overhaul

Martyn Ridyard, set to stay with Featherstone Rovers.
Martyn Ridyard, set to stay with Featherstone Rovers.

Featherstone Rovers are confident they will still be competitive next season despite having to cut costs following the failure to finish in the top four in the Betfred Championship (writes Tony Harber).

Plans for 2019 were revealed at a fans’ forum held in a packed Legends Suite at the LD Nutrition Stadium when chairman Mark Campbell and general manager Davide Longo fielded questions from the audience.

The squad is set to undergo an overhaul with several senior players leaving or retiring, but supporters were told that a number of signings were in the pipeline, including two who featured in the 2017 World Cup, one captaining his country.

Papua New Guinea brothers Watson Boas and Ase Boas have been linked with moves to Featherstone, but the club is not in a position yet to be able to announce who is coming in from abroad.

Domestically irons are in the fire as well with several squad places open due to the players leaving.

It was announced at the forum that as well as Gareth Hock and Tom Holmes who have already left prop Richard Moore would be going and the injured Chris Ulugia was considered unlikely to play again.

Stalwarts Ian Hardman and Misi Taulapapa are set to retire, leaving two big gaps to fill in the backs.

Rovers are set to stand by Jason Walton, who suffered a bad knee injury at Rochdale and could be out of action for some time and confirmed that key player Martyn Ridyard was also set to stay along with John Davies, Josh Hardcastle, James Lockwood, Luke Cooper and Scott Wheeldon.

Negotiations are ongoing with other regulars from this year with Fev confirming they have offered new deals to Matty Wildie and Keal Carlile. Other names were not mentioned due to confidentiality on talks.

The dual registration deal with Leeds Rhinos, meanwhile, looks set to continue into next year with Rovers having had the use of nine Leeds players in 2018.

Chairman Campbell confirmed that Featherstone will also be looking to appoint a new assistant coach.

After the forum general manager Longo said: “We were delighted to see the number of supporters who attended.

“It really highlighted how much this club means to the community.

“More than that, though, we were pleased with how many people engaged in the discussion.

“Mark and myself made ourselves open to be challenged and we hope through doing so, we were able to provide clarity.

“We have received positive feedback on the evening and that makes me excited ahead of our AGM.

“For now, though, all I ask of supporters is that they get excited about 2019 and get behind our current squad for the remainder of this season.”

Featherstone Rovers’ annual general meeting will take place in the Legends Suite at the LD Nutrition Stadium on Thursday, October 18 from 7:30pm.