Championship Preview: Featherstone finely poised to challenge

One of the surprises of last season was Featherstone’s decision to dismiss coach Jon Sharp on the eve of The Qualifiers.

The reason behind that was to give time for a new project to be put in place and it is former Widnes and Leigh hooker John Duffy who has taken on that mantle.

A well-run club, Featherstone now have a squad on paper that looks like it could challenge for the Championship title, even if they can’t boast the resources of their main competition, Leigh and Toronto.

At half-back though, they are as well-equipped as anyone, bringing in the prolific Martin Ridyard and Castleford starlet Tom Holmes, adding to a side that already included experienced Championship half-back Anthony Thackeray, who could now switch to full-back.

They have also recruited strongly in the pack, bringing in former England international Gareth Hock, while the likes of Connor Farrell and Sam Brooks also have top flight experience.

Ridyard, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Huddersfield, said: “I know a lot of people are saying we’ve got a good squad on paper, but that doesn’t win you games.

“We’ve got a lot of hard work to do. We need to have the right attitude whether we play Swinton, Barrow, Toronto, Toulouse or Leigh, we’ve got to turn up every week with a 100% mind set, and hopefully we can pick up a lot of wins on the way.

“Competition for places is vital and we’ve got a few options.

“It’s been one of the most enjoyable pre-seasons I’ve had. It’s been very tough and just meeting the new players, but everyone’s been ripping in and there’s a fair few new signings all wanting a starting slot, so it’s been competitive but everyone’s had a lot of fun along the way.”

Featherstone open the Championship season against Halifax at the LD Nutrition Stadium.

Head Coach: John Duffy
Captain: Ian Hardman
Key Man: Martyn Ridyard
One to Watch: Gareth Gale

Ins: Shaun Robinson (Swinton), Tom Holmes (Castleford), Danny Maskill (Queanbeyen Kangaroos), Martyn Ridyard (Leigh), Scott Wheeldon (Sheffield), Gareth Gale (Featherstone Lions), Gareth Hock (Leigh)
Outs: Sam Day (Dewsbury), Andy Bostock, Kyle Briggs, Scott Turner, Daniel Igbinedion (Sheffield), Kyran Johnson (Oldham)

Squad: 1 Ian Hardman, 2 Shaun Robinson, 3 Chris Ulugia, 4 Misi Taulapapa, 5 Luke Briscoe, 6 Martyn Ridyard, 7 Anthony Thackeray, 8 Scott Wheeldon, 9 Keal Carlile, 10 Richard Moore, 11 Connor Farrell, 12 John Davies, 13 James Lockwood, 14 Matty Wildie, 15 Gareth Hock, 16 Frankie Mariano, 17 Luke Cooper, 18 Jason Walton, 19 Tom Holmes, 20 Josh Hardcastle, 21 Bradley Knowles, 22 Sam Brooks, 23 Gareth Gale, 24 Danny Maskill

Prediction: 3rd

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