Featherstone Rovers coach Jon Sharp is hopeful that more young amateur stars can follow in the footsteps of “revelation” Josh Hardcastle following a dream start to life as a professional.
Hardcastle was plucked from amateur side Featherstone Lions and has subsequently scored six tries in the four games he has played – and he will look to extend that record this Sunday against local rivals Batley.
Sharp told TotalRL that he can’t work out how Hardcastle had been left in the amateur game for so long, and it says it’s a lesson to anyone that they are always being watched.
“I’m scratching my head about it all,” he said.
“I can’t understand why he’s been where he has been. He’s got six in four and he’s been a revelation – we’re delighted for him but also for us because we’ve scouted him, coaches him and developed him into one of our own.
“Who knows who could follow? There’s certainly plenty of talent in our local area and although we had another couple of guys in during pre-season who weren’t as successful as Josh, it’s a sign for other amateur players that the opportunity is there.”
Fev go in search of a third consecutive victory to start the Championship season this Sunday against their West Yorkshire rivals, and Sharp admits he is impressed with the progression of the Bulldogs in recent years.
“The excellent work that has been done at the club over the last five years will be built on by Matt Diskin,” Sharp said.
“They’re a tough outfit and they’ll be tough to beat – I reckon they’ll be right in the mix at the end of the year.
“They put Halifax to the sword, didn’t they? It’s a game I always look forward to.”
Sharp welcomes back a number of key players for Sunday’s game and, having been without a fair chunk of his squad at various stages thus far, the Rovers coach says he’s delighted to still be unbeaten.
“Defensively we’ve been magnificent,” he said. “We’re carrying on from last year when we were the best defensive team in the competition, including Leigh. We want to be more expansive with the ball too but February and March aren’t traditionally great months to be doing that.”
“Going into our first game we lost three during the captain’s run, so it’s a good sign we’ve been able to manage without them. It’s a positive moving forward.”
Frankie Mariano, Richard Moore, Jordan Baldwinson and Michael Knowles are all back in the fold for the game at Batley.