Sean Long upbeat despite Featherstone injury concerns

George Riley
Sean Long News Images

Photo: James Heaton/News Images

Sean Long hailed some outstanding individual performances but has injury worries ahead of the new season after Featherstone thrashed Hull KR.

Rovers scored five unanswered tries in a 28-0 win in Craig Hall’s testimonial at Post Office Road, in an impressive display ahead of their Championship opener against newly-promoted Keighley.

New boys Elijah Taylor and Caleb Aekins impressed but Long saw key men Joey Leilua, John Davies and Jack Bussey pick up injuries.

Full-back Mark Kheirallah and prop Tyler Hepi remain long-term absentees.

“JD is probably the concern,” Long admitted of the loss of forward Davies.

“We made a break and he grabbed his hamstring. We’ll assess him and see how it is but he will be sorely missed. We have a good squad though and competition for places for the opener against Keighley.”

Sean Long on Joey Leilua and Jack Bussey injuries

Long was more upbeat on Leilua – who came off the bench but hobbled off after slowing up following an interception – and Bussey.

“Joey has had a tight calf for a week or so,” Long said. “We have been managing that during the week, and he said he was able to play. I just think it was tight and he got a bit fatigued.

“Bussey rolled his ankle on the freezing pitch but he’ll be fine.”

Tyla Hepi not expected to play in 2023

Hepi however is not expected to play at all this season. The former Castleford star is set for an operation on his ACL injury at the end of the month that will keep him sidelined for six to nine months.

France international Kheirallah suffered a similar injury last season and has told Love Rugby League he is targeting the game against Sheffield on May 7 as a potential return date.

In his absence, new signing Aekins excelled at full-back against the Robins, with Brandon Pickersgill lively off the bench. Former Salford captain Elijah Taylor also impressed in his first Featherstone appearance.

“ET was outstanding as was Caleb,” said Long.

“To keep a side like Hull KR to nil was outstanding. There were some big, big plays. I’m pleased but we are still working on stuff.”

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