Toronto Wolfpack v Featherstone Rovers: Grand Final pressure all on the favourites, says Alex Sutcliffe
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS have nothing to lose and everything to gain from today’s Betfred Championship Grand Final at Toronto Wolfpack, centre Alex Sutcliffe says.
Rovers’ task today (7.30pm UK time) could not be harder, but the underdogs – who finished fifth in the table – are brimming with confidence.
League leaders Toronto have lost only once since London Broncos stunned them in last year’s Million Pound Match.
Rovers, though, have already won away to the three teams who finished immediately above them on the ladder – Leigh Centurions, York City Knights and Toulouse Olympique – and Sutcliffe reckons all the pressure is on the big-pending Canadian side.
“Toronto are a really good team, they finished top of the league for a reason,” said the 20-year-old Leeds Rhinos three-quarter who is dual-registered with Featherstone.
“They have massive amounts of talent throughout, from one to 17 and in the backroom staff, so it will be a good challenge, but London did it last year so there’s no reason why we can’t.
“We’ve travelled away to three very good sides, all three of them finished above us in the league and we’ve beaten them so we have got a massive amount of confidence and realistically we’ve got nothing to lose. It’s very exciting and I am sure all the boys are up for it.
“I know I am, I can’t wait to get on with it now.”
Rovers had just two days between arriving back from their semi-final at Toulouse and jetting to Canada, limiting them to a recovery session and one evening’s training, but Sutcliffe insisted: “We are all good, we are fully fit and we can’t wait for it.”
Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott gave Sutcliffe his Leeds debut two years ago, but injuries have limited him to just one substitute appearance in Super League since then, at this season’s Magic Weekend, but – with 15 tries in 17 games for Rovers – is one of the form players outside the top-flight.
“It’s great,” Sutcliffe – who is joined in today’s squad by Rhinos’ Ashton Golding, Callum McLelland and Wellington Albert – said of his time at Featherstone.
“I wasn’t playing at all at the start of the year and I was low on confidence, but since I’ve been playing my confidence has picked up and I am loving it.
“I am really happy with how I am playing at the moment, it is probably the best season I’ve had since I have been playing rugby.”
Rhinos boss Richard Agar expects Sutcliffe to challenge for a place in Leeds’ centres next year and the player added: “Rich has been great with me, he speaks to me all the time, one-to-one and he has really helped me.
“I am excited for pre-season, I’m going to try and get a good pre-season under my belt and then see what can happen from there.”
Cameron King is set to return from concussion and Danny Maskill is also in contention, but the injured Josh Walters misses out.
Featherstone Rovers (from): Hardcastle, Carey, King, Bussey, Lockwood, Davies, Cooper, Maskill, Harrison, Makatoa, Render, Ormondroyd, Sutcliffe, Golding, McLelland, Chisholm, Albert, Jones, Johnson.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).