Hull Kingston Rovers back Ben Cockayne admitted the prospect of relegation is a daunting one, and believes the Super 8s format is damaging to the competition.
The 32-year-old featured as the Robins fell to a 36-12 defeat to cross-city rivals Hull FC, thus dashing their slim hopes of a top-eight finish.
Being part of the side who won all seven games in The Qualifiers last season, Cockayne is all too familiar with the landscape of the structure, including seeing his former side Wakefield retain their place in Super League by a whisker.
With Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants falling into the bottom four, he admitted his side will have their work cut out to replicate last season’s feat.
“I don’t think it’s a good format to be honest but people will probably say I’m saying that because we’re in the bottom four again but regardless of whether you’re top or bottom of the league it’s not, but the RFL will do as they please,” he told League Express.
“I go back to Wakefield last year and those blokes in that team thinking I may not have a job by tomorrow: I can’t think of a worse position (to be in).
“From day one everybody wants to be in that top eight and nobody envisages being in the position of having to be in that mini-tournament but we’ve just got to deal with that.
“Leeds and Huddersfield are starting to become the teams we know and look at Salford as well, they’re a good side and the Qualifiers are going to be more daunting for all the sides involved.”
Beyond the current season, Cockayne confirmed he will remain at Rovers next season after a clause in his contract was activated, while he will also be offered a community role and a testimonial.
With a new head coach set to arrive at the KC Lightstream Stadium in 2017, with former England coach Steve McNamara leading the running, Cockayne said he and his team-mates have a point to prove to the incoming coach.
“I’ve no idea who it’s going to be; we’re very much in the dark and whenever we ask JP (Jamie Peacock, head of rugby) any questions he doesn’t give anything away which I suppose is the right thing to do as that’s his job.
“I’m sure whoever is being touted will be playing close attention to the current crop of players and who they’ve got to work with next year.”
This article originally appeared in League Express. Buy your copy every week in stores or online by clicking here.