Head coach James Ford is preparing promotion favourites Featherstone Rovers to deal with anything that could possibly go wrong, as they meet London Broncos in the Championship play-off semi-finals.
Rovers finished 12 points clear of the competition in their bid to reach Super League for the first time in the club’s history, and were a massive 18 points ahead of tonight’s opponents London.
But Ford, who only replaced the sacked Sean Long in August, has urged his squad to learn from their past play-off failings, with ‘unrattleable’ becoming the watchword of the former York Knights boss during his so far short stint at Post Office Road.
‘Unrattleable’ Featherstone Rovers primed for Super League bid
“We have an opportunity to give the fans their first taste of Super League, and I think they feel a little bit hard done by since Super League’s conception,” Ford told Love Rugby League.
“We will give everything we have got for them, and the message I will be hammering home is just to focus on London with a map and a strategy to beat them.
“The boys have become unrattleable. Referees are humans and can get some things wrong. I was running around the training field the other day coming up with some of the worst refereeing decisions you have ever seen.
“A ball can bounce unfavourably. Our opponent could come up with an outstanding play. We can’t control any of that. I believe we now have the mentality to move on from stuff like this.”
Promotion favourites’ chief James Ford urges them to learn lessons from previous failings
Rovers suffered a shock defeat at the semi-final stage at home to Batley Bulldogs last year, having succumbed to Toulouse Olympique in the Grand Final 12 months earlier.
If they progress tonight, it will be the French side who Featherstone meet again next weekend for a spot amongst the elite, and Ford believes his side are a different beast to those who have gone before them, built on a calmer mentality and much-improved discipline.
“Discipline is not conceding penalties and in offload selection and play selection,” he says.
“Patience. We are trying to attack and break teams down. But we have to be disciplined about it. Our penalty count has come down from five, six, seven a game to around two now.
“The boys are really going after it and that has had a big effect on our energy. If we nail our jobs individually and collectively I am confident we will progress.”