DARYL Powell is delighted with the way Featherstone’s new signings have settled in.
Head coach Powell (pictured) has recruited Dewsbury Rams forwards Anthony England and James Lockwood, Hunslet half-back Danny Grimshaw, York prop Nathan Freer, Widnes centre Tangi Ropati and ex-Halifax prop Dominic Maloney, who will join Rovers when he returns from Australia in January.
“We are now into our second week of pre-season training and the attitude and application of all the players has been superb. It’s going excellently,” said the Rovers boss.
“I am really pleased with the way the new players have slotted into what we are doing. I am really happy with the fitness levels of the new recruits and their general attitude. The signs are extremely positive in terms of a starting point in pre-season.
“They are exactly what I expected from them as individuals and that’s always pleasing when you bring new players into your squad.”
Powell wants defending champions Rovers to “go up another level” in 2012.
They have lost only three league matches in the last two seasons but Powell believes they can improve again.
“I think the signs are that we are going to be as strong, if not stronger, than we were last season. And we are looking to step up,” he said.
“We don’t want to sit where we’ve been over the last couple of years. We want to go up another level and I’m confident we can.
“The six signings we have made are high quality and they’ve got great attitudes as well. Alongside that you expect the players you’ve got in your squad already to continue to improve. If we can do that then the signs are really positive.
“Looking at the players we’ve signed we have certainly recruited some size. I know we’ve lost Tony Tonks but I think we are going to be a little bit bigger in the front row next year and I think that will be a bonus for us.
“If we can continue to develop our physicality through the work we do in the gym I think that will also be another real bonus for us over the coming season.
“You get things that come up and surprise you every season in terms of the opposition you are coming up against. There have been a lot of high profile signings at different clubs and we don’t know exactly what we are going face. All we can do is look after ourselves.”
Powell believes Rovers will benefit from his work as assistant to England coach Steve McNamara during the Gillette Four Nations tournament.
“There are lots of things I’ve picked up that I can use in the Featherstone day-to-day operation and it will certainly only benefit us,” he said.
“It has been a really enjoyable experience. You are working with elite players and you see how elite players prepare themselves.
“You are looking at individual players and what they do and how they got about things and also watching other coaches as well which is always interesting.
“The camps have been fantastic. They have been based at Loughborough which is a pretty elite environment in itself so from that perspective it’s been outstanding.
“As a group of players for the majority of the tournament England did themselves real justice. Obviously we were all disappointed we couldn’t get the job done at the end but there’s been real progress and something for the England national team to really build on as a foundation and move forward.”
Meanwhile, Rovers are moving closer to their target of selling 1,000 season tickets for next season. First-team players, including Jon Grayshon, have been helping the push by telephoning supporters from the club office.
Rovers commercial manager Paul Taylor said: “We are a successful, exciting, forward looking team that more and more people will want to identify with.
“Buying a season ticket is the best way to do that. The personal touch of players calling people on the phone just emphasises the connection between players and fans.”