THERE IS no danger of Featherstone Rovers treating the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie with Bradford Bulls as a distraction, coach Jon Sharp says.
Rovers are second in the Kingstone Press Championship and seeking a second successive appearance in the Qualifiers, but Sharp insisted the knockout competition is just as important.
“This club was made famous by its exploits in the Challenge Cup,” Sharp said.
“I am a Featherstone lad and I understand that, I know how much the Cup means to this club and the fans.
“I am going to put the best team I can out and I want us to have a crack at it.
“We want to go on a Cup run and experience that brings,” he said.
A 12-point deduction has left Bradford cut adrift at the foot of the Championship table, but they have won three of their six games so far and Sharp reckons they are a genuine threat, despite Rovers’ impressive away form.
“The way they are playing is really impressive,” said Sharp, whose team are unbeaten on their travels.
“They will be a big challenge to our defence, but so far we are averaging 13 points conceded per game. We had the best defence in the competition last year at an average of 16 per game and we’ve improved on that, which is pleasing.
“But we will need to be physical this week. We have got some size about us, but Bradford are a big team and we will have to muscle up against them.”
Both teams will be without their Leeds Rhinos contingent.
Rovers have a dual-registration arrangement with the Super League side who have also loaned four players to Bradford this term.
Prop Mikolaj Oledzki has been recalled by Rhinos, hooker Sam Hallas is injured and half-back Jordan Lilley and second-rower Josh Jordan-Roberts will not feature as Leeds don’t want them Cup-tied.
Featherstone will have to manage without any Rhinos players – including winger Ash Handley, who has been in impressive form in the Championship this year – for the same reason.
Sharp said: “It is an opportunity for some players who have missed out. I am looking forward to seeing how they go.”