Featherstone Rovers coach James Webster confident 1895 Cup final will go ahead
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS coach James Webster is “confident” the 1895 Cup final will go ahead at Wembley on Saturday, but won’t be there if it does.
Webster, along with some of Rovers’ playing squad, has tested positive for coronavirus, throwing the showpiece clash with York City Knights into doubt.
Players who received a negative result underwent another round of PCR testing today, with a decision on the game expected once those outcomes were known.
If the match is called off, it will be rearranged for a venue in the north of England later this season.
York’s only previous Wembley appearance was 90 years ago and Rovers have not played at the national stadium since 1983, so both clubs are desperate for the game to take place as scheduled as a curtain-raiser to the Betfred Challenge Cup final.
“We are hopeful it goes ahead,” Webster said.
“I am confident it will, seeing as the people who are getting tested again have already passed PCRs.
“That was only a couple of days ago, so I can’t see why they won’t again.
“I am really hopeful for everyone involved. As a coach I am doing everything I can – and so are the club and the RFL – so people get their day out in London.
“It has been a long time coming for both clubs so it’ll be fantastic if we get the game on.
“I know the players have tried hard, I have tried hard and the RFL have done a really good job in trying to liaise with us to get this game on.”
Webster would not confirm which players have been ruled out, if the game goes ahead, but insisted: “We will scratch together a team.”
He said: “It has had a big impact on our team and I won’t be going, but I think we are still a strong team.
“We won’t be anything like the sides we’ve seen in the last month or two, but we have got some really good players who haven’t had enough opportunity this year and they are going to get a go.”
Webster was part of Leeds Rhinos’ coaching staff for last year’s Betfred Challenge Cup final and with Hull against St Helens in 2008.
Of his own situation, he said: “We are in good hands.
“Paul March will take over for us. With technology, I spoke to the players [on Wednesday night] and I can do so again.
“All the preparation was done anyway, so we will be fine with that.”
Webster said he has passed lateral flow tests and feels fine.
He stressed: “It’s just the way it goes. It is not about me, it is about the game and I am really hoping people will get their day out, which is what it’s about.”
The Australian said he has huge sympathy for players who have lost an opportunity to play at Wembley.
“Nobody knows when they’ll be going back,” he remarked.
“It took me 13 years to get back there and I was lucky I was going to get to go again straight away, after last year.
“Some players are distraught they won’t be going, but we’ve had a real philosophy this year – it is about team first.
“I’ve spoken to people and wished them well and there hasn’t been a lot of depression around the group.”
Preparation has obviously been disrupted, but Webster added: “This isn’t new for us.
“We’ve played three or four games this year after hardly training.”
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