We have to be better – Powell

Zak Hardaker
Zak Hardaker

FEATHERSTONE coach Daryl Powell is looking for a much improved display in Sunday’s Co-operative Championship game against Batley Bulldogs at Bigfellas Stadium (3pm).

Rovers, who were beaten 36-10 at Leigh in their opening game, have been rocked by a worsening injury crisis and have also lost Zak Hardaker (pictured) who has been recalled by Leeds Rhinos.

But Powell says Rovers must put their problems behind them and quickly bounce back.

“I have told the players we have to improve. We cannot afford to be sulking about and feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to pick ourselves up and crack on,” he said.

“Regardless of what is happening to us injury wise the players that are stepping up have got to be better.

“They have got to have a desire and willingness to prove themselves when they step up or we are in trouble. There are opportunities for players and they have got to step up to the plate.”

Powell is considering bringing in another loan signing after Rovers suffered more injuries in the defeat at Leigh.

They lost Andy Bostock with a stomach virus the day before the match and Sam Smeaton, Liam Welham, Tim Spears and Dave Williams were all injured during the game.

Powell said: “Both our centres Sam Smeaton and Liam Welham got injured early on. Tim Spears rolled his ankle just after half-time and Dave Williams also rolled his ankle and he was on the bench not feeling too clever. And we had two young kids on the bench anyway.

“However, I still felt we had a team at the start of the game that should have done better than it did. We hung in there for long periods but never really got to grips with the game.

“We had a terrible start to the match. We had been talking about how we had been starting and we had a similar one against Widnes.

“It’s clearly not good enough to start games like that against decent opposition and Leigh made us pay.

“We again had some poor defensive reads which undid us.

“I am not making excuses - I don’t think we were good enough. Even though we have a number of issues, I just think we have to be better than that.”

Rovers had good news on Wednesday night at an RFL hearing when prop Tony Tonks’s two-match ban was halved on appeal. It means he is now available for this weekend.

Hardaker, who is on a dual registration, has been recalled by the Rhinos because of their injury problems.

Powell said: “Those are the terms of the deal as it stands and there’s not an awful lot we can do about it

“It’s disappointing from our point of view but it’s a good opportunity for Zak.

“I was disappointed with Zak’s performance last week so the likelihood is that Ian Hardman would have gone to back to full-back anyway.”

Powell will not finalise his team to face Batley until later this week.

“The liklihood is that we will be down on troops at practice during the week and it will be Friday or Saturday before I know what sort of team we will have out.

“It’s going be a tough battle for us this weekend.

“Batley had a good win last week and they are a good side.

“They improved last year and won the Northern Rail Cup and they challenged us heavily when we played them at Batley.”

Scrum-half Liam Finn is in talks with Rovers about extending his contract.

Powell said: “We are in discussions with Liam at the moment so it’s ongoing.”

Finn is among three Featherstone players who are nearing milestones.

Finn’s next goal will be his 300th career goal.

Skipper Stuart Dickens needs two points for 1,500 career points and Andy Kain needs one try to reach 50 for Rovers.