THE TOP-FOUR is the “promised land” for Featherstone Rovers this season, according to coach Jon Sharp.
Rovers finished fifth in the Kingstone Press Championship last year and had to settle for a place in the Shield competition, which they won.
The division’s leading quartet will battle the bottom four in First Utility Super League for a top-flight spot next year and that is where Sharp wants his players to be when the league splits after 23 rounds.
“The top-four is the promised land for everybody,” said Sharp, whose team begin their campaign away to last year’s league runners-up Bradford Bulls tomorrow (3pm).
“Irrespective of where you finish, everybody wants to get in the top-four to have an opportunity of pitting your wits against Super League opposition.
“We are aiming for that.”
It is a new-look Rovers side and Sharp said a trip to Odsal will give them an indication of how much work they need to do, though he admitted it will take time for combinations to gel.
Rovers beat Hunslet Hawks and Leeds Rhinos in pre-season and impressed in the second half against Castleford Tigers.
Knee injury victims Matty Wildie and Steve Snitch are both unavailable for tomorrow, but Sharp said: “Everybody else is fit and healthy and really excited.
“It seems a long time since the last game of the year and we are really looking forward to it.
“We aren’t feeling our way into it, we will drop straight into the melting pot against probably the second-best team in the competition.”
Sharp added: “Performance-wise I’ve been really happy with what we’ve done in pre-season.
“We’ve played against Super League teams, they have been really competitive games and we are in decent nick.
“Combinations have improved from one game to the next, but the team that will run out on Sunday I reckon will include about 13 players making their debuts for the club.
“We are very much at an embryonic stage. We have got a new full-back and two new halves and as a team we are very, very young.”
Rovers are aiming for a repeat of last July, when they pulled off a stunning 37-18 victory at Odsal under previous boss Andy Hay.