Featherstone Rovers boss Jon Sharp reckons the Championship Shield has been good for his young team.
After initially being disappointed to have missed out on the Middle Eights, Rovers have gone on to thrive in the Shield with just one defeat, to Dewsbury, and will take their place in the final against London Broncos at Widnes on Sunday.
“It will be a good experience for the young players, but this year has been a good experience,” head coach Sharp told the Express.
“It will give them a taste of what’s expected at training and what to expect in games.
“It will give them an incentive to work hard in the off-season and get themselves ready to know what’s needed to step up to that next level.
“I think the Shield has been really good for us.
“I don’t think the team was up to the Middle Eights. We’ve seen the Championship clubs that finished above us struggle against the Super League teams and I don’t think we were at a level to be competitive.
“I think this level’s been the right one for us and it’s also been an opportunity to blood young players and give them an experience of first team whereas it would have been an uphill battle if we had been playing against Super League teams I think.”
For the final, Sharp says his team is not phased by having to play on Widnes’ controversial artificial pitch.
He said: “I think there’s a good few of the lads have played at Widnes before, probably half the team.
“The other half have experienced 3G anyway.
“With regards to going across and having a run on it I got the consensus from the captain and the leaders and the elder statesmen saying that they would rather stick to the usual routine that has served them well over the last eight weeks.”