Friday sees the kickoff of the first two games in the group stages of the Northern Rail Cup competition with both the Co-operative Championship Grand Final teams in action. Losing finalist Featherstone Rovers host Doncaster whilst Grand Final winners, Halifax, hope to push their Super League ambitions further with a solid opening performance at the Swinton Lions.
Featherstone Rovers v Doncaster – Friday February 4th, 2011 @ 19:30
Rovers’ head coach, Daryl Powell is determined to build on last season’s successes despite the heartbreaking Grand Final defeat and recent news that Ross Divorty (knee) is facing three months out. However Rovers have a deep squad and Powell insists he and his charges are now fully focussed on this year’s Northern Rail Cup:
“All the signs are positive, but it’s really important we don’t take anything for granted.”
“If we play well, then I’m confident that at the end of 80 minutes we’ll be where we need to be on the scoreboard.”
Doncaster hope to have scrum-half Scott Spavin (shoulder) back in time for the clash with coach, Tony Miller, confident his team will give a good account of themselves, saying:
“I’m really pleased with how the boys have trained, and we’ve had the majority of the squad in place for the last couple of months.
“Featherstone away is probably the hardest start we could have got, but I want us to be competitive in every game.”
Swinton Lions v Halifax – Friday February 4th, 2011 @ 20:00
At this level of rugby league you learn to take pretty much everything in your stride when it comes to dealing with team personnel. So Swinton Lions coach Steve McCormack will reshuffle his squad and move on despite the shock departures of Andy Ainscough – to the Marines – and Carl Sneyd who is taking 12 months’ break from the game.
Dana Wilson (ankle) is also unavailable this week, although he should be fit within a fortnight.
“I’m loving every minute at Swinton. It’s a good bunch of people on and off the field, and the players have been working exceptionally hard.”
“We couldn’t have had a more difficult start, but that just makes the challenge more exciting.
“Halifax are well coached and the best team outside of Super League, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Halifax expect star Ben Black (shoulder) to recover in time to face Swinton, with player-coach Dave Larder saying:
“We’ve trained pretty hard for the last 12 weeks. It’s getting to the point where everyone just wants to get back playing again.”