It can be argued that Hull Kingston Rovers have had a pretty successful season so far.
Naturally, the club had higher hopes than 10th place in Super League, their current position on the league ladder, but they’ve done it pretty tough in 2016, and when you weigh up all the contributing factors, they’ve not done as bad as some would like you to think.
A string of key injuries is pretty much the norm across Super League at the minute, but not many have been without their primary stand-off, scrum-half and hooker all at once for a fair chunk of the year.
Then there was the departure of Chris Chester. It is still discussed across East Hull whether his exit was best for the club or not. Despite a poor start to the season, the aforementioned injuries plus the difficulty of nurturing young talent that had joined the club such as Thomas Minns and Ryan Shaw was a big ask of Wakefield’s current head coach.
James Webster came in as interim, but it is understood his ability to recruit new players is restricted as the club prepare for 2017 under a permanent head coach who will have different thoughts on where the team can strengthen ahead of next year. He hasn’t brought in a player of his own as of writing.
Add to that the child sex offences Adam Walker was charged with, that were dismissed earlier this week, the humiliating Challenge Cup defeat to Oldham and the sad passing of club icon Roger Millward, and it really has been a tough year for Rovers.
It could have very easily ended disastrously, but Webster and the other key figures at the club have steadied the ship impressively, even if results haven’t been as positive as the club would have liked.
But even now, with seven games of the regular season to play, Rovers still have a chance of making the top eight, although if they are to move out of the bottom four they need to beat Wakefield tonight.
Rovers face Wigan, St Helens and Warrington in the three games following their trip to Wakefield, and it’s hard to envisage them picking up maximum points from all of those games.
Compare that to ninth-placed Salford, who play Leeds and Huddersfield in their next batch of games, whatever the outcome, teams around Rovers will be picking up points in the next few weeks, which could even result in KR slipping further down the table.
Wakefield have been in superb form since Chester’s arrival, and they will want to increase the distance between themselves and Rovers as they look to consolidate their spot in the top eight.
If Webster can mastermind a victory against his old team-mate, Rovers will be back in the mix, but a defeat will leave them in an unwanted position.