No more joking around. After the 23 game ‘preseason’ the real business of the season starts today for Rovers when they entertain Halifax at KCOM Craven Park.
When the season kicked off in February the sole objective for Tim Sheens and his squad was to top the Championship table and secure four home games in the Qualifying 8s competition, and with that set the stones for a serious assault on regaining a place in Super League. That objective was achieved with little trouble along the way, so now the second objective begins.
Sunday afternoons game is very unlikely to mirror the recent game between the two sides when Halifax simply had to win to give them the best chance of a shot at the promised land, whilst the Robins were merely waiting for the fun of the 8s to begin.
Sheens’ men will have a totally different mindset to today’s clash knowing that a win is a must especially on home soil, so for the first time in a while the pressure is on the Red and Whites to perform well and for the full 80 minutes. Losing points to divisional rivals could be terminal in the Robins Super League challenge even at this early stage of the comp.
With this in mind Sheens welcomes back some big guns into his squad, captain Shaun Lunt should return along with the ‘Tank on the Flank’, Justin Carney, speedster Andrew Heffernan and quality youngster George Lawler.
As well as the return of injured or rested players, today could see the debut of man mountain Mose Masoe. Well known on these shores after his time with St Helens, Masoe completed his move to the Robins from the St George Illawarra Dragons, but with only one or two short training sessions with his new teammates it is likely Mose will start from the bench.
The unlucky quartet to miss out this week are Ben Cockayne, Mitch Clark, Josh Johnson and Chris Clarkson.
‘Fax will be buoyed by the recent victory over the Robins and go into the game full of confidence, but as stated earlier the stakes are totally different today and the Robins have home advantage.
One ‘Fax player who will need no added motivation to perform. Scott Murrell is still much loved at Craven Park after his efforts in the red and white, but he will be itching to get the win over his former employers.
When its really mattered Sheens’ men have got the job done this year and starting with today they have seven games left that really MATTER, so its time to get the job done.