James Webster previews Featherstone Rovers' Championship season - plus star man, ins and outs, title odds and key number
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS have found the right blend of youth and experience to launch a promotion bid this year, believes head coach James Webster.
Rovers are among the favourites to earn a place in Super League in 2021 and have recruited some big names as they look to reach the top flight for the first time in the summer era.
A whopping 13 players have signed deals at Post Office Road for 2021 and beyond. Many have come from Super League, with the likes of Tom Holmes, Craig Kopczak, Kris Welham and
Connor Jones all adding serious strength and experience to Webster’s side.
Former NRL player Fa’amanu Brown could prove a real gem while youngsters Callum Field, Loui McConnell and Joe Summers have all had experience with Super League clubs.
“You have got to find the blend,” said Webster.
“I wanted to find people who still wanted to make a career in rugby league, which meant if you got promoted you could take them with you.
“It was not about finding people who were coming in at the latter end of their career and other things in life would start to become a priority.
“I think we have got that blend. I wanted some people who still had some ceiling in their ability and we have got some young kids who have got that.”
Featherstone were unbeaten when the 2020 season was curtailed and came close to promotion in 2019 when they lost the Million Pound Game to Toronto Wolfpack in Canada.
Webster wants his side to be “the best team in the comp’” but admits that whoever is promoted will need some luck on the injury front and minimal Covid-19-related disruption.
Webster hasn’t focused too much on the teams tipped to challenge Rovers this year, but has instead put his entire energy into how he can help Featherstone claim a much-coveted place in the top flight.
“We have given ourselves a great chance, 100 per cent,” he added.
“I haven’t spent a lot of time dissecting other people’s squads and where they are strong and where they are not.
“All I can say is that we have got a really good squad here.
“Don’t get me wrong, every team needs some luck. You need some luck with injuries and we don’t know how Covid is going to affect people this year but, in saying that, I have got a lot of faith in what we have recruited.
“It is our centenary year this year, once fans can get back into the ground I think it is going to be hard to get a ticket. I think we are going to show some really good rugby and try and take this on as hard as we can.”
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS 2021
Ins: Fa’amanu Brown (Free agent), Jacob Doyle (Castleford Tigers), Callum Field (Leigh Centurions), Frankie Halton (Swinton Lions), Tom Holmes (Huddersfield Giants) Connor Jones (Salford Red Devils), Craig Kopczak (Wakefield Trinity), Loui McConnell (Leeds Rhinos) Louis Sheriff (Keighley Cougars), Harvey Spence (Leeds Rhinos), Joe Summers (Castleford Tigers), Kris Welham (Salford Red Devils), Liam Whitton (Leeds Rhinos)
Outs: Conor Carey (Released), Brandan French (Released), Louis Jouffret (Ottawa Aces), Jack Render (Sheffield Eagles), Jack Richardson (Released), Alec Susino (Released), Bradley Wright (Released), Nathan Wright (Released).
Last year: 3rd place (after four games)
Player to watch: Nu Brown - The versatile signing has experience in the NRL but has had his career hampered by injuries in recent years. The Samoan international is fighting fit again and raring to go with Featherstone.
Championship winners - 7/4