Keighley Cougars coach Paul March admits he is preparing for an emotional afternoon in London today as the Cougars bid to reach the final of the iPro Sport Cup.
Their trip to London Skolars will mark the first anniversary of the death of Keighley player Danny Jones when the two sides met last year.
He said: “It’s going to be emotional and the energy that it will take off the players might distract us from the game itself. The full 36-man squad are travelling down there together and we won’t know until we get there who is mentality ready and prepared to play, so there might be some changes.
“But I’m sure everyone will be fired up. My team talk won’t be much just, ‘let’s do it for ourselves and Jonesy’. Mentally most of us had probably prepared for when we go down there on May 21 but with the Cup draw it’s come early, so we’ve got to get our heads around that. If we perform as best we can, I’m sure we will come out on top.”
London Skolars won their fifth successive match last week against Coventry, the first time the club had achieved such a winning sequence as a professional outfit. Coach Jermaine Coleman said: “It was very nice for the boys and that there were so many in the team had played a significant role over a number of years. I was a little bit disappointed with the performance but if someone had offered me a 52-20 win at the start of the game I would have definitely taken it.”
“Saturday is going to be an emotional occasion for both clubs,” said Coleman. “Both sets of players who were there last year will have a lot to deal with and on top of that there’s the pressure of playing a semi-final. I very much think it will be the team who holds their own and keeps to their senses, so to speak, that will come out on top and obviously we hope that will be us.
“Winning breeds a little bit of confidence and we’re in a rich vein of form at the moment. We’re going into it focused on us and what we need to do and how we need to perform. If we do that we feel we give ourselves a chance in every game. We’ve got a competitive squad with experience and quality.”
There are injury concerns over stand-off Jy-Mel Coleman (back), prop Erjon Dollapi (shoulder) and second row Eddie Mbaraga (ribs).