Sharp and Spears could make Rovers return

Will Sharp could be back to face Wakefield. Picture: Bob Nunn.
Will Sharp could be back to face Wakefield. Picture: Bob Nunn.

Featherstone Rovers hope to welcome back Will Sharp and Tim Spears for Sunday’s pre-season game at Wakefield Wildcats after they missed the opening friendly at Castleford Tigers.

Stand-off Paul Sykes will face his old club on Sunday after making his Rovers debut at Castleford.

“There will be a bit of a change round in the squad but it will be very similar to the one that played at Castleford,” said Rovers coach Andy Hay.

“I think we’ll go with 20 players again. I know Wakefield are putting out a strong team so we are expecting a good test.

“We are hoping Will Sharp will play. He may start at full-back or on one of the wings. It could give us a chance to change full back around again with Kyran Johnson and Ian Hardman.

“The pack will be very similar but we might change things around with the back rowers. Tim Spears trained on Monday night and I’m hoping he’ll be fit.

“Paul Sykes will be playing. I thought he was great for us in the game at Castleford and really steadied us down.

“There will be some youngsters playing as well. I want to see Jack Ormondroyd play and George Marchant may also play. They both missed the Castleford game through sickness. I thought Will Milner was good against Castleford and I’d like to see him out there again so he will probably stay in the team.”

Featherstone and Wakefield both lost their opening pre-season matches.

Rovers were beaten 18-0 at Castleford and the Wildcats went down 50-28 at Leeds Rhinos on Boxing Day.

“We are looking more at our structures in the Wakefield game,” said Hay.

“We’ve done a bit more work on our defence and we are now going into our attack phase. We’ll be looking at our halves and how they play.

“We’ll have a game plan which we’ll try to execute and hopefully cause Wakefield a few problems with our attack.

“I thought we did that a little bit against Castleford but not enough. We weren’t clinical enough and our execution wasn’t right so hopefully we can fix that up this week.

“Wakefield are putting out a strong side and they’ve work to do from their game at Leeds on Boxing Day so they will want to prove a point and it will be a good challenge for us.

“They are a good team to play on our doorstep and all the players are looking forward to it. Since the Christmas period and the early pre-season training, you can see how the focus has now shifted towards preparing for games and the players are getting more focused on how they want to play.”

Rovers are again without Andy Bostock, Matt Nicholson and James Mendeika who are recovering from surgery.

Hay said: “Bostock has started doing a bit of running so he’s coming along nicely.

“It will possibly be the Batley pre-season game or maybe the Salford match before Nicholson is fit to play.

“Mendeika is probably going to be another six weeks before we see him back in full training but that’s good for him. The amount of training he has done on his own and the extra physio work he has been doing has got him to where he is. He’s made one of the quickest recoveries I’ve seen from an ACL injury.”

Rovers are still awaiting the arrival of Australian signings Ryan Verlinden, Jy Hitchcox and Reni Maitua.

“There is some positive news with Reni. He is applying for his visa which could take two to three weeks,” said Hay.

“With Jy we’ve just got to jump through another hoop with the RFL and hopefully that will get done this week and with Ryan we are still just waiting for his passport to land.

“Ideally, we definitely want them here before the end of this month. They are a big part of our season and a big part of our squad going forward to next season. We might have to arrange another trial game to give them a run out.”

Featherstone’s pre-season game against Batley Bulldogs on Sunday, January 18, has been switched to the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium (3pm kick-off).

The game was scheduled to be played at Big Fellas Stadium but the relaid pitch will not be ready in time.

Hay said: “With the weather, the pitch has taken a little bit longer than expected. Thanks is due to Batley who have accommodated us by switching the game. It’s not ideal for us losing a home fixture but at least we still have match so we can practice again.”

A decision has not yet been made on whether to switch the pre-season home game against Salford which is scheduled for Friday, January 23.

Admission to Sunday’s game at Wakefield is adults £15, concessions (over 65 only and not students) £12 and juniors (15 and under) £5.

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are S Howe (I1651), M Booth (S5659), P Newcombe (F5398), C Marshman (A0910), M Broadbent (Y3045). £5 consolation prizes: G Gott (V6751), D Trundley (W6772), L Morgan (V2530), Harris Printers (V2543).