Rovers hope Maitua will arrive in time to face Leigh

Rovers coach Andy Hay: "We hope to have Reni here before the end of the week."
Rovers coach Andy Hay: "We hope to have Reni here before the end of the week."

Former Australia and Samoa Test player Reni Maitua could make his Featherstone Rovers debut in Sunday’s home match against unbeaten Championship leaders Leigh Centurions.

Rovers coach Andy Hay hopes the 32-year-old back-rower, signed from NRL club Canterbury Bulldogs, will arrive in time to face the Centurions.

“We hope to have him here before the end of the week,” said Hay.

“We’ve provisionally booked flights for him on Thursday and Friday. If he gets here in time and we think he’s ready to play, there is a strong possibility he could be in the team on Sunday.”

Maitua’s fellow Aussie forward Ryan Verlinden is also set to arrive shortly.

“We’ve had some positive news with Ryan and he could be here at the latest within the next two weeks,” added Hay.

“Getting them over here will be a boost for everyone. They will add to our squad and be a big part of our team going forward.”

Rovers will aim to build on last Sunday’s 24-12 victory at Halifax when they lock horns with Leigh in a repeat of last season’s Championship Grand Final.

It will only be Featherstone’s second match this year at new-look Big Fellas Stadium following a 40-4 defeat against Bradford Bulls at the start of this month.

“Leigh were the best team in the competition last year and it’s another tough fixture for us on Sunday,” said Hay.

“They haven’t lost a game yet and they put the cleaners through Doncaster last Sunday.

“We know what to expect from Leigh. They will be as good, if not better, than Bradford. They are a quality outfit and they’ve added some good players from last year as well.

“I thought we let ourselves down in the Bradford game. We got some credibility back last Sunday at Halifax and we need to kick on this week from that.

“We didn’t do ourselves justice against Bradford and I’d have thought the players who take to the field will be keen to make up for that.

“There will probably be a big home crowd again and we’ll be looking to get the fans behind us but we need to put on a good show.”

Hay boss was pleased with Featherstone’s gritty performance at Halifax as they made it three wins from their opening four fixtures.

“It was good all-round and I was a lot more pleased with it. We needed it as well,” he said.

“Halifax are a decent side and they made it hard for us. It was a good win for us.

“Defensively we were very good and the attitude and enthusiasm from the players was first-class.”