Powell: Players need to improve every week

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Featherstone coach Daryl Powell believes keen competition for places will bring the best out of his squad this season.

Rovers have signed Matt James, Andy Ellis (both from Wakefield), Steve Crossley (Dewsbury), Lamont Bryan (London), Tom Hodson (Doncaster) and Ben Hellewell (Warrington) and most of them are set to play in Sunday’s opening Championship game against Leigh Centurions at Big Fellas Stadium (3pm).

Tommy Saxton, Hodson and Hellewell are all available after recovering from injury but Mick Haley (broken foot), Tim Spears (shoulder) and Sam Smeaton (knee) miss the start of the season.

“We have a deep squad with a lot of good quality players,” said Powell (pictured).

“Players need to be improving every week to be able to get into the team. That will certainly be the case with competition for places in every position.

“The competition should bring the best out of players - that’s the reason you have strong squads. It can also counter any injury situations you get.

“I think we’ve got the strongest squad since I’ve been at the club and hopefully that will drive everyone to improve five or ten per cent. If we do that, we’ll be a good team again.

“Obviously, I’m going to select a team of 17 for Sunday and not everybody will get in that. I will make a decision as we go through the week.”

“There’s every chance quite a number of the new signings will play on Sunday. We’ve signed six players and I think most of them will play.

“I haven’t decided yet and I’ve got a few things to weigh up with the amount of pre-season games a few of our players have played.

“There’s been a few who haven’t played that many for different reasons and I’ve got to make sure I get the right mix this week.”