Craig Hall calls on Featherstone Rovers team to “do our part” towards club’s Super League aspirations

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS favourite Craig Hall says the club are ready for Super League off the pitch – but accepts there is plenty of work to do on it if their top-flight aspirations are finally to be realised.

Sean Long’s side start their campaign at promoted Keighley in front of the Viaplay (formerly Premier) Sports cameras tonight (Monday, February 6) as Betfred’s 11/10 top tip to win the Grand Final (the Cougars are 12/1).

Former Leeds assistant coach Long aims to succeed where a string of predecessors have failed, with Featherstone losing deciders under Ryan Carr (to Toronto in 2019) and James Webster (to Toulouse in 2021).

Then came the let-down of last season, when Brian McDermott’s men, having finished runners-up to Leigh over the regular season, crashed out of the play-offs at home to Batley at the semi-final stage.

Now Long is in charge of a new-look squad, with Chairman Mark Campbell’s backing helping bring in the likes of Salford forward Elijah Taylor, Papua New Guinea prop McKenzie Yei, Leigh fullback Caleb Aekins and Toulouse centre Chris Hankinson.

Rovers have looked good in pre-season, beating Castleford and, in Hall’s testimonial, his old club Hull KR while giving Wakefield a real challenge before defeat, and the versatile back says the mood is positive, but certainly not over-confident.

“We’ve made some good signings, the squad is very strong and Sean and Leon (Pryce, Long’s assistant alongside Ian Hardman) have brought some new ideas,” said the 34-year-old, who joined Featherstone in 2020.

“The club has developed in the time I’ve been here. We have a good stadium and strong roots in the local community and (chief executive) Martin Vickers, who I know from when we were both at Toronto, has done some really strong promotional work.

“Now, after a disappointing time last year, when we couldn’t stay with Leigh and then under-performed in the play-offs, we have to do our part out on the pitch in what is shaping up to be a tight and competitive division.”

Keighley 21-man squad: Lewis Young, Charlie Graham, Nathan Roebuck, Mo Agoro, Jack Miller, Dan Parker, Billy Gaylor, Toby Everett, Kyle Trout, Aaron Levy, Kyle Kesik, Harvey Spence, Brenden Santi, Ellis Robson, Dane Chisholm, Robbie Storey, Mark Ioane, Ben Crooks, Sadiq Adebiyi, Brad Walker, Luke Gale.

Featherstone 21-man squad: Luke Briscoe, Chris Hankinson, Craig Hall, Gareth Gale, Johnathon Ford, Riley Dean, Craig Kopczak, Connor Jones, James Lockwood, Brad Day, Elijah Taylor, Jack Bussey, Matty Wildie, Gadwin Springer, Josh Hardcastle, Luke Cooper, Caleb Aekins, Mathieu Cozza, Thomas Lacans, McKenzie Yei, Kyle Evans.