Kilshaw targeting Championship ascent as Rochdale look to the future

Rochdale head coach Alan Kilshaw has talked up the importance of the Hornets’ upcoming fixtures as he plots the club’s long-term development.

Victory over Oldham last weekend has left the Hornets in eighth place and five points clear of safety.

Having overcome a number of challenging fixtures against the competition’s top five teams, the Hornets now face a string of games against teams in and around them on the ladder, starting with Sheffield on Sunday.

Kilshaw believes the next six-week period will have a big say on his plans for next season, with the Rochdale chief eyeing up a high finish on the league ladder so they obtain addition central distribution funding at the end of the year.

“There are eight games left and we’re playing a lot of the teams around us.

“If we can win the bulk of those games we can certainly push for a spot in the Shield and certainly stay away from the bottom two.

“It’s a really important phase for us, not just from a rugby point of view but from a financial perspective too. The higher up we finish the more quality and depth we will have in the squad next year because of the funding.”

Their latest challenge comes in the shape of a Sheffield side currently occupying sixth place. Although Kilshaw wouldn’t rule out a push for a top-half finish, he admitted he was keen for his side to move further away from the bottom two before looking that far ahead.

“Anything is realistic for us,” he said.

“But we’re still not out of the woods yet and we know that. The bottom two teams performed at the weekend and one of them won so we have to focus week in week out to make sure we don’t get dragged into it.

“But we know we can do more than that and now we have to show it wasn’t a one-off at the weekend and perform again on Sunday.”