Rochdale coach John Stankevitch has bemoaned the bad luck his side has suffered after a horrendous start to the year in terms of player numbers.
After entering pre-season with a healthy squad of 30 players, the former St Helens and Widnes back-rower saw that number whittled down to 20 due to a combination of injuries and retirements, leaving him with a patched up squad that has managed just one win in their opening three Championship 1 matches.
Stankevitch said: “I’ve never seen anything like it.
“It’s basically like we’re starting pre-season all over again now. We’re playing catch up and have had lots of new faces come in, but now we’re ready to go again and re-start everything.”
The ex-Doncaster coach saw Ryan Powell and Danny Smith leave for Australia a year earlier than anticipated, a season-ending knee injury to star man Phil Wood and the unfortunate retirements of Dave Kennedy and Pete Fairhurst, all before the Hornets had kicked a ball this season.
He added: “We’ve had no fluency to our play. We’ve been performaning well for 10 or 20 minutes, and then having a poor 20 minutes, and it leaves the players frustrated.
“In some respects, it’s a bit of a cliche but, the players are trying too hard. They’ll make a break through the line and then try a ridiculous pass, but we’ll get there.”
Stankevitch plans haven’t been helped with an injury blow to Adam Bowman, who is out for up to a month with a cheekbone injury, while Gaz Hayes has become another player to retire after sustaining an injury in training.
Hornets picked up only their second win of the season, and their first in league, at the weekend, defeating London 40-20 at Spotland. Their only previous success came over Workington in the Northern Rail Cup, 22-20.
After pushing Barrow close in their season opener, Rochdale were handsomely beaten at Widnes before throwing away a 20 point lead in defeat at home to Doncaster, who they face on Sunday in round four.