Featherstone Rovers boss Sean Long on Riley Dean and Challenge Cup tie absence following Warrington Wolves recall

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS went down 22-18 to Halifax Panthers in the Challenge Cup Third Round yesterday at the Millennium Stadium.

Rovers went into the tie as heavy favourites considering they were unbeaten in 2023 after a big win against the Panthers earlier in the season.

However, from the first whistle it was quite obvious that Simon Grix’s men were not there to roll over this time around as they forced Featherstone into uncharacteristic errors.

Of course, Rovers weren’t helped by the decision from Warrington Wolves to recall Riley Dean to ensure he isn’t Challenge Cup tied.

Dean has been in unrivalled form for Featherstone since joining on a season-long loan, but he was absent yesterday and Rovers head coach Sean Long felt his side missed his calming influence.

“Riley has been one of our best players and you look out there in a game of rugby league and your six, seven, nine and one touch the ball the most,” Long told League Express.

“Riley is calm and composed when he gets the ball and even then towards the end, we had a left centre sent off and we kept going down that end. So we needed a bit of smarts and we definitely missed him.”

Long himself has no qualms with Warrington recalling Dean, with the Rovers boss pointing to the fact that if the Wolves get an injury down the line, they may need Dean in a Challenge Cup game.

“I would have done the same,” Long confessed. “If he was my player and you have a good run in the Challenge Cup like Warrington will probably do, if one of your halves go down like Josh Drinkwater then Riley would be in.

“I would have done the same so it is what it is. That being said, I think the players we put out there was a good enough team to win but we shot ourselves in the foot at times.”

Halifax now go into the draw for the Challenge Cup Fourth Round.