Assessing Hull KR’s half-back options for Challenge Cup after Mikey Lewis blow

Aaron Bower

Hull KR trio Peta Hiku, Elliot Minchella and Jez Litten

Hull Kingston Rovers have a dilemma on their hands this weekend when it comes to Willie Peters’ options at half-back.

The Robins begin their quest to reach a second consecutive Challenge Cup final when they face Salford Red Devils in the last 16 of the competition – but they will do without one of their most important players.

Mikey Lewis will be unavailable after failing a HIA in the win against Huddersfield on Saturday, and the obvious replacement, recent signing Ben Reynolds, is cup tied after featuring for former club Featherstone Rovers earlier in the Challenge Cup this season. Young half-back Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e is also out on loan at League 1 side Oldham.

What are Willie Peters’ options? He has a handful – but some are more left-field than others. Here’s a look at the likely contenders to partner Tyrone May in the halves on Friday night.

Peta Hiku

Arguably the frontrunner to fill the vacant role at half-back is full-back Peta Hiku. It would be his third different role in three weeks if he is moved into the halves to partner May, after going in at centre on Saturday afternoon at Huddersfield and producing arguably his most accomplished performance in a Rovers shirt thus far.

With Niall Evalds at fullback, Hiku could easily slot in at half-back. Hiku does have prior experience of deputising in the halves earlier in his career in the NRL, and with a shortage of genuine halves available, he could be the most obvious option for Peters to consider.

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Jez Litten

Another who has prior experience of filling in at half-back, hooker Jez Litten is a possible option to partner May on Friday night.

Litten could easily slot into the halves if required and with Matt Parcell likely capable of playing more minutes at hooker, there is a ready-made replacement to fill in there if Litten is the chosen option for Peters.

The downside with this option would obviously be moving a player who is thriving in his first-choice role and risking throwing off the balance of Rovers’ attack even more, taking another pivotal player out of their natural position.

Left-field options

If Peters doesn’t want to move Hiku or Litten, there is the slightly more left-field option of taking a ball-playing, creative forward and nudging them in at half-back.

Captain Elliot Minchella would be a candidate in that regard, having had some experience of playing hooker in the past – though obviously, moving into the halves is a different matter entirely. James Batchelor is perhaps another possible candidate if things do get desperate for Peters, as is Dean Hadley. But they’re definitely last resort options, with Rovers’ pack weakened significantly if one of that trio goes into the halves.

Evalds could also go in at half-back if Peters decided to revert Hiku back to fullback, but it feels much more likely that the latter of those two players will get the nod to partner May.

In short, it’s somewhat of a dilemma for Peters.

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