LEIGH Centurions owner Derek Beaumont says Featherstone Rovers “have got a real chance of getting to the Million Pound Game this year.”
Beaumont is wary of Rovers ahead of Saturday’s opening Qualifiers clash against the Centurions at LD Nutrition Stadium.
Beaumont, whose Leigh team won automatic promotion from the Championship last season, is backing Featherstone to upset the odds in 2017.
He believes the Centurions, who won 30-18 at Featherstone in the Qualifiers last year, face a stern test this weekend.
“I am really looking forward to the game, it promises to be a cracker and I for one am delighted Featherstone made the Qualifiers for a second year running,” said Beaumont.
“Featherstone are without a doubt the biggest threat in the Qualifiers, from a Championship point of view. They are very dangerous.
“It is going to be tough for any Championship team to make the automatic promotion places, in my opinion, but Featherstone have got a real chance of getting to the Million Pound Game this year.
“The Featherstone we will face on Saturday is vastly improved on the Featherstone team we narrowly defeated last season.
“This weekend is very dangerous for us and we are taking nothing for granted. I would much rather take on Hull KR at home than Featherstone away.
“I have a lot of time and respect for Mark Campbell (Rovers chairman) and the Featherstone club and am looking forward to seeing what they bring to the Super 8s - under new head coach John Duffy.
“John is a talented guy and he will bring an exciting brand of rugby to the Rovers during a crucial period. It was a great appointment by Featherstone.
“I feel Featherstone - and Mark (Campbell) - would add a great deal to Super League and I for one would welcome them with open arms, providing they don’t take our place.
“If Featherstone got promoted, I feel they would invest in their squad wisely, bring good crowds and add real vibrance to the competition.
“Featherstone have great facilities, a solid off-field team and, crucially, a strong fanbase. I believe their attendances would sore in Super League and they are a club which re-invests prize monies to further their own growth and development.
“The Rovers have been chipping away at a place in the top flight for a number of years.
“Up until the time I returned to Leigh, Featherstone were up there at the top of the Championship year in, year out. They were difficult to stop, though Super League back then wasn’t as open in terms of promotion as it is today.
“We will need to be at our best on Saturday. We know we are facing a quality team - on their own patch - with plenty of ambition and desire to achieve.”
Rovers supporters can buy a discount bundle pack of tickets for Featherstone’s three home Qualifiers matches which, if purchased before 5pm on Friday, can provide savings of up to 25 per cent on standard admission prices.