The prospect of failure in this weekend’s Million Pound Game will be unthinkable for fans of Salford and Hull Kingston Rovers: and that’s exactly why both coaches have admitted in the build-up to it that they have not considered the worst-case scenario.
Rovers know that Tim Sheens will come on board whether they are in Super League or the Championship next year – but that hasn’t stopped the club’s current head coach, James Webster, putting defeat to the very back of his mind.
“There’s been no talk of contingencies for next year should we lose, we’ve been a team that always said we want to attack these Qualifiers and we have,” he says.
“Look at our results, we’ve been really competitive in the Qualifiers against a lot of good teams and we wanted to go out there and really attack them and be as positive as possible and that hasn’t changed for this one.
“We haven’t spoken too much of the outcome of the game, we’ve just spoken of the process we need to go through to win. So it’s a hard one, it’s easy to talk after the result, but were just trying to prepare as per a normal game.”
The Million Pound Game concept has come under fire this week from one of Webster’s own players, with fullback Ben Cockayne calling it a “disgrace”.
Webster would not be drawn into making similarly explosive comments earlier this week: but admitted it is not a concept that holds too much favour with him.
He admits: “I’ve said early what I thought of this game but I don’t want to detract from what the games about, and take my eye off the ball ahead of this game, it’s a big game for us.
“The RFL are trying to create some publicity which is fantastic for the game, but in my opinion, you get one week’s publicity for probably weakening the competition next year, so you get 27 weeks of mediocrity next year for two weeks of interesting stuff – but that’s just my opinion.”
And Webster insists that, true to Sheens’ word, there has been no contact from the Australian to his former employers in the run-up to a game which will determine which division the Robins are playing in next year.
“I’ll be assistant next year, I haven’t spoken to Tim,” Webster says.
“He hasn’t made contact with any of the staff what I’m aware of, it’s hard for Tim. He’s got a job at another club and we could have always aligned ourselves to have played in this game but we haven’t had any contact.
“Relegation would be a disappointment, but I haven’t thought about it. I’m very much of a glass half-full rather than empty at the moment, we’re just preparing to win this game.
“Should you ask me what I felt like at the end of the game if we were relegated, I could give you a clearer picture of that then – but the feeling of disappointment and despair is not one I’m thinking about: it’s just about getting the job done.”
We’ve played each other three times, there’s not too many secrets left to tell, things haven’t changed too much over a couple of weeks.