Featherstone Rovers: Second-tier switch for top-flight referee Thaler

Ben Thaler.
Ben Thaler.
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TOP REFEREE Ben Thaler has been “rotated” to tomorrow’s Kingstone Press Championship clash between Featherstone Rovers and London Broncos (3pm), says the Rugby Football League (RFL).

The Wakefield official sin-binned Leeds’ Brett Ferres for a tackle on Wigan Warriors’ Oliver Gildart last weekend which led to the Rhinos man being banned for six games by the RFL’s disciplinary committee.

Jon Sharp.

Jon Sharp.

Last month referee James Child was appointed to Batley Bulldogs’ Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie at Toulouse Olympique – rather than a Betfred Super League fixture – the week after failing to send off Leeds’ Brad Singleton for a foul on Catalans Dragons’ Greg Bird.

Singleton was also referred to a disciplinary hearing and suspended for six matches. Asked if Thaler has been dropped for not dismissing Ferres, an RFL spokesman confirmed all games are reviewed by the match officials’ department. He said: “With a pool of 13 Grade One match officials at the Rugby Football League, there is always going to be some rotation during the season.”

With Featherstone third and London fourth, tomorrow’s game is crucial in the race for places in the middle-eights.

Rovers boss Jon Sharp said: “We’ve won five out of five away and lost two out of three at home. We need to rectify that and I am sure we will.

“Over the course of the year the balance will be redressed, but aside from that I don’t think home and away is a talking point. They are a really good team and they are going to be challenging for the top-four, so we’ve got to win.”

Sharp added: “It is a really important one for us, it’s almost like an opportunity to get rid of London from our worries. We know they can play; they were outstanding last year and have recruited well so it is going to be a big challenge, and we’ve got a few injuries which makes it even more difficult.”

Frankie Mariano (fractured arm), Jason Walton (knee) and Ash Handley (knee) have joined the casualty list and Richard Moore is suspended, though James Duckworth and Michael Knowles are back in contention.

“The injuries have come at once and at a bad time,” Sharp said. “We’ve got six games in April and they are lengthy injuries so we will be down on numbers.”

Rovers captain Misi Taulapapa’s visa has been approved and he is now eligible to play. Leeds Rhinos prop Mikolaj Oledzki could make his Rovers debut tomorrow on dual registration.

Andy Bostock

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