CLUB captain Stuart Dickens will make his first Featherstone appearance of 2011 in Sunday’s friendly against Leeds Rhinos at Bigfellas Stadium (3pm).
Experienced prop Dickens (pictured) has missed the three previous pre-season matches after undergoing a groin operation.
Andrew Bostock, a close-season signing from Dewsbury Rams, is set to make his Rovers debut following a shoulder operation.
Rovers coach Daryl Powell said: “We will be fielding what I see as our strongest squad of players. I’ve always seen this as the key match for us leading into the season.
“We are not far away from playing our first competitive game against Doncaster on February 4.
“Stuart Dickens will certainly play against Leeds. Andrew Bostock trained pretty well on Tuesday night and I think he will also be fine for Sunday.
“ I think it’s a great chance for the fans to see our new blokes out there.”
Andy Kain will start Sunday’s match at stand-off following Kyle Brigg’s move to Bradford Bulls.
Iain Morrison is likely to begin his comeback in Featherstone’s pre-season match against Dewsbury on Saturday, January 29, after recovering from knee surgery.
Featherstone’s team against Leeds will be:
Ian Hardman; Tommy Saxton, Sam Smeaton, Andy Bostock, Bryn Powell; Andy Kain, Liam Finn; Stuart Dickens, Ben Kaye, Tony Tonks, Jonny Grayson, Tim Spears, Matty Dale. Subs: Michael Haley, Liam Welham, Greg Worthington, Ross Divorty, Zak Hardaker, Dom Dee, James Davey.
Leeds will field a strong squad on Sunday. Only three of their starting line-up have not played in Super League.
The Rhinos side is:
Jones-Bishop, Smith, Coady, Watkins, Hall, Ward, Kettlewell, Bailey, McShane, Kirke, Clarkson, Pitts, Casey. Subs: Hood, Amor, Stewart, plus three players to be named.
Zak Hardaker, who has played in both Leeds’s pre-season matches so far, will be on duty for Featherstone on Sunday.
Hardaker has signed a five-year contract with the Rhinos but he has been loaned back to Rovers for the whole of this season and trained with them on Tuesday night.
Said Powell: “The plan is that Zak will be with us for the remainder of the season unless Leeds have a really serious injury situation.
“He’s played in a couple of Leeds’s pre-season games and that’s great for him. I think it’s important he has been able to get that experience.
“He’s been working very hard physically in the Leeds system. It’s all part of his development as a player and we are keen to help him get better and we are hoping he’ll play a big part in our season.
“He’s going to continue to work with Leeds in terms of his physical development on a full-time basis and that will be good for him but he will be training with us and doing all our team sessions which I think is important.”
Prop Dom Dee, signed from Hull KR, will be on the subs bench against Leeds after impressing in Saturday’s 36-10 win against Oldham.