THE SEASON has not worked out as planned, but boss John Duffy says he could not be prouder of his Featherstone Rovers players.
Rovers missed out by one point on a place in the Qualifiers after finishing fifth in the Betfred Championship.
That led to star men Tom Holmes and Gareth Hock leaving the club and injury-hit Rovers have been reduced to the bare bones in recent weeks, fielding 14 players in their Championship Shield clash with Leigh Centurions and 16 against Sheffield Eagles.
But despite the shattering disappointment at the end of their regular campaign and the problems since then Rovers have won all five of their Shield fixtures and are on course for home advantage against Leigh in the final in two weeks’ time.
“They are a great group,” Duffy said of his squad which is down to 17 fit players. “I am only speaking from a coaching perspective when I say I’ve been disappointed with certain performances.
“In everything around that they have been absolutely fantastic, I could not wish for anything more attitude-wise.
“They are still there, they are coming to training with smiles on their faces so we must be doing something right.
“They want to bring something back for the fans. They’ve followed us all over the world this year and we’ve got to make sure we do it for them.”
Duffy will be taking nothing for granted when Rovers visit second-bottom Swinton Lions tomorrow. Swinton are battling with Rochdale Hornets to avoid being dragged into a relegation/promotion showdown with the losers of the League One play-offs final.
“I’ve said all year anyone can beat anyone in this league,” Duffy warned. We’ve got to go there with the right frame of mind. If we are in and out of the game like we were last week we’ll be in trouble.
“They are in a lot more dangerous position than Dewsbury were, they are fighting for their lives so we have got to make sure we are on it.”
Of Rovers’ motivation, Duffy added: “We have just got to build momentum now for the final and we can’t slip up if we want to get a home game.”
Rovers have signed 22-year-old second-rower James Harrison – son of former Featherstone ace Karl – from Batley on a one-year deal.