Reni set for Rovers bow

James Mendeika is set to play in tonight's reserves game. Picture: Bob Nunn.
James Mendeika is set to play in tonight's reserves game. Picture: Bob Nunn.

Former Australia and Samoa international Reni Maitua will make his Featherstone Rovers debut in Sunday’s Championship match at Batley Bulldogs.

The 32-year-old utility player, signed from Canterbury Bulldogs on a two-year contract, arrived on Saturday but he was not risked in Monday’s home game against Sheffield Eagles.

His presence this weekend will give Rovers a big boost as they look to bounce back from home defeats against London and Sheffield over the Easter period.

“Reni wasn’t ready for Monday’s game. He’s a smart enough player to know his own body and to push him into playing on Monday wouldn’t have done him or us any good,” said Rovers coach Andy Hay.

“We are pulling back a bit on training this week to keep the boys fresh and not overwork them because of the busy Easter period but Reni will be in nearly every day doing a bit extra to get him up to speed with what we need from him.

“He is going to be massive for us. He had a bit of a team run with us on Sunday and fitted straight in.

“You could see what a smart a player he is and his quality.

“I think he will be a great addition at a time we need him. He will bring a wealth of experience and some quality leadership.”

Rovers lost prop Paul Wood on the first tackle of Monday’s game with an ankle injury.

They will also check on Matt James (elbow) and Andy Bostock (ribs) who were also injured in the Sheffield match, for which French international Remy Marginet was rested.

James Mendeika is set to have his first outing of the season after major knee surgery in tonight’s reserves game at Dewsbury Rams.

“James Mendeika will probably have a run out in Thursday’s game just to get some match practice,” added Hay.

“There will probably be a few other boys having a run out as well. We’ll see who comes through all right and is ready for Sunday.

“Reni Maitua hasn’t played for a while so we might throw him in there on Thursday and give him some game time.”

Rovers have slipped to seventh in the table but are only two points adrift of fourth-placed London.

They will aim to maintain a 100 per cent away record this year in competitive matches when they make Sunday’s trip to Mount Pleasant where they lost 26-6 in a friendly in January.