Whitehaven coach Carl Forster says he wants his players to give the club a welcome distraction in the Challenge Cup again this year – but says they face the strongest expansion side in League One as they begin their road to Wembley this weekend.
Haven host London Skolars on Saturday night, where they will hope to kickstart another run in the competition like last year, when the Cumbrians reached the fifth round before being knocked out by Halifax on the BBC.
And Forster told TotalRL that, after a disappointing start to their league campaign last weekend against Oldham, the prospect of a cup run can have numerous benefits for a club like Haven.
“It gives the club a lift for obvious reasons if you start going through the rounds, but it’s also a nice distraction for the players to have,” Forster said.
“We started off on the wrong foot last year, but we got a bit of a run in this competition, drew Halifax and were streamed on the BBC and that brings some nice financial benefits.
“Are we going to go all the way and win it? Probably not. But we’re dreaming of the same thing as everyone else at this stage; get through some rounds, draw a big team at home or away and enjoy the experience.”
Haven could only field 16 players during last week’s defeat to title rivals Oldham having lost three players on the morning of the game due to illness – but Forster insists that will not be the case again this weekend.
“We’ve lost a couple but we get a couple back, the positive for me this week is I should be able to field 17 players!” he laughed.
“It was nice to only concede one try throughout that whole game but we didn’t score a point, and that was obviously disappointing. We’ll learn from it though, and we’ll move on.”
Forster has been handed two huge boosts on the team news front for Saturday’s game, with key man Jessie Joe Parker available – as well as hooker Stuart Howarth likely to be given a debut. And the Haven coach admits those returns are timely against a Skolars side Forster clearly rates.
“They’re by far the best of the southern teams and we experienced that ourselves last year,” he said.
“They’re a real big outfit and on our pitch at the minute, that doesn’t suit us. London have got some big units but we can’t get dragged into that. We’ve had a good week though, the players have responded well and we’re confident.”