Rovers coach Sharp expects ‘enormous challenge’ at old club Huddersfield

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "It's another enormous challenge - Huddersfield have been a good team for a long time."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "It's another enormous challenge - Huddersfield have been a good team for a long time."

Featherstone coach Jon Sharp is looking forward to visiting former club Huddersfield Giants for Sunday’s second Super 8s Qualifier.

Sharp spent four and a half years in charge at the John Smith’s Stadium from 2004 to 2008 and steered the Giants to the Challenge Cup final at Wembley in 2006.

“It’s a while since I’ve been there but I’m looking forward to Sunday and seeing some old faces that I enjoyed working with during my time there,” said Sharp.

“It’s a place where I had some success and enjoyed my time. There was a cup final, a semi-final and play-off place which wasn’t bad in five years.”

Sharp expects another tough test this weekend for his Championship side against Super League opponents following last Saturday’s 62-6 home defeat against Leeds Rhinos.

“It’s another enormous challenge - Huddersfield have been a good team for a long time,” he added.

“The first two games in the Qualifiers are probably going to test the strength of the squad and test the resilience of the team.

“The game is quicker, the intensity is quicker and I think the way it’s refereed is different as well.

“We’ve just got to build on what we’ve done before and improve on what we did last week.

“We want to learn and we want to improve and adapt to the challenges we have in front of us. They don’t come any bigger than Huddersfield at Huddersfield.

“We will take some things out of the Leeds game that will give us confidence. There are a couple of areas where we need to be better as well.

“We’ve got to play well and play for 80 minutes. I thought at times last Saturday we pushed the pass a little bit too much and ultimately that hurt us.”

Sharp felt there were numerous positives from the defeat against the Rhinos.

“People were pleased we had a good crack at them and I thought it was a really good day for the club,” he added.

“There’s lots and lots of positives to come out of it, the experience itself has been fantastic for the players and the club.

“I was really pleased with a lot of the things we did. We created some opportunities and sometimes overplayed a little bit but that showed that we were confident.

“Being only 10-6 down to the champions after half an hour was testament to how hard we worked.”

Sharp described the Leeds performance as “Grand Final” quality.

“Leeds were absolutely outstanding,” he said.

“In the second-half, they had a 100 per cent completion rate and were right on the money. They probably selected the strongest side they could.

“In the second half in particular, every opportunity Leeds had they executed well and were ruthless.

“They had their foot on our throat and never took it off for 80 minutes, but for us it was a real good lesson; that is how you need to play and this is what we’re going to be coming up against in the Middle Eights.

“We weren’t quite as good as we have been but the things Leeds did to us probably affected how we played.

“The experience will do us the world of good and we’ve just got to learn from it now.”