Featherstone Rovers ponder venue switch owing to pitch problems

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featherstone rovers could switch their Kingstone Press Championship opener against Hunslet to South Leeds Stadium.

Rovers have been forced to cancel or move pre-season games away from Big Fellas Stadium due to problems with the pitch and there is a danger it will not be ready for their first competitive fixture, on Sunday, February 15.

The previous pitch was dug up at the end of last season. Chief executive Pat Cluskey said: “It was relaid in three sections. Two-and-a-half are fine, but there’s little bits of one section which aren’t. We had a look at it last Wednesday and it had improved since the week before.

“We’ll have another look (today) and every Wednesday over the next three weeks. If we can’t stage the game on February 15 we will look at seeing if we can stage the game at Hunslet, depending on their availability. We may perhaps even look at an alternative venue for that game, but if that is the case we are focusing on March 1 for our home game against Bradford. We want to make sure the pitch is ready for then.”

Cluskey said Rovers have not given up hope of being able to play Hunslet at Big Fellas. “It’s down to the weather, simple as that,” he said. “Volunteers have worked hard on the pitch. It is strange that it’s just bits of one section that are causing concern. We have had experts in – including Jason Booth who was groundsman at Headingley and is now national turf manager for the Institute of Groundsmen. We have taken advice from different people and it is a lot better than it was before Christmas. The current climate, with the strong winds, will help it dry out. We will have a look (today) and take it from there, but we are making contingency plans for the Hunslet game and hopefully it will be all systems go for Bradford Bulls.”

Rovers had been due to play host to Salford Red Devils on Friday, January 23, but that has been called off due to the pitch problems.