Robins long for home advantage

Tony Smith says his Hull KR players are desperate to get back to playing Super League matches on home turf.

And the seasoned Australian coach says the value of the return of fans to Hull College Craven Park, all being well from the middle of May, can’t be overstated.

Rovers played at the east end of the M62 for the first time since March 15, 2020 when they hosted Castleford in a testimonial for Tigers forward Adam Milner earlier this month.

After facing Catalans Dragons in their Super League opener at Emerald Headingley on Saturday and heading to St Helens on Thursday, April 1, Smith’s side will feature in the third round of the Challenge Cup the following weekend.

Then come home attractive home league games against Huddersfield on Friday, April 16 and Leeds seven days later.

And Rovers hope to have some fans back in their stadium for the visit of Leigh on Thursday, May 27.

The Centurions were the visitors the last time spectators were present, with the Robins winning 22-19 in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup last year.

“There was a buzz about the boys when we got back on the main pitch for a training session, never mind the Castleford game,” said Smith, who is approaching his second full season at the helm after having replaced compatriot Tim Sheens in June 2019.

“Getting back home is massive, and it will be even bigger when the fans are back, because they really have been missed.

“As important and intense as Super League matches are, they still lack atmosphere when grounds are empty.

“It was great to be able to play matches last year, but getting on a bus and heading along the M62 every week had its challenges, and sometimes tested our patience.

“We did what we had to do, but this club is craving as return home, and getting a taste of it against Castleford was great.”

Smith is confident forward Dean Hadley will be available against Catalans, despite having to have stitches after damaging an ear against the Tigers, when Rovers were beaten 30-20.

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