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On The Pitch

One eye on next season, says Sheens

Head coach Tim Sheens admits his focus on tomorrow’s clash with Warrington Wolves will be divided between finishing 2017 on a high and starting preparations for next season.

With both teams already sure of a place in the Betfred Super League next year, this weekend’s clash at the Halliwell Jones Stadium will be the final game of the season for each side and Sheens says he has a couple of key objectives for the game.

Asked if was attributing more importance to finishing a successful 2017 campaign strongly or starting his team’s focus on next year, the Rovers replied: “A little bit of both I think.

“I’m giving young Chris Atkin an opportunity again to start his second Super League game and I saw plenty of signs last week of some good things. He’s really busting to improve some of the things he did against Catalans last week and Jamie Ellis is coming back into the side to help with some of that.

“We’ve lost Jordan Abdull, he’s had a bit of pain in his foot again so he might require some minor surgery to take the pins out and help with that. It was time to let Jordan stand down but it gives Matty Marsh another opportunity as well.

“I’m looking to finish the season well but also to get a better idea on who and what for next year. This will be our third game in a row against Super League opposition so we’ll see how some of the younger players handle that in terms of recovering and preparing again to play at that level for three weeks in a row.

“We’ve got a bit more experience in the team this week compared to last with three or four players recovering from knocks to take part. It’s not such a young team for us. Obviously we’d like to win and end the season on a high, but it’s about the performance as well and hanging in there against a strong Warrington outfit.

“The pressure if off both clubs so I can see Warrington throwing it around a bit more and expressing themselves. You look at their squad and it’s a bit of a who’s who of everybody back, including young Ben Currie and so on. They’re sending off a few players and the coach Tony Smith as well, so they’ll be playing with some emotion and this will be a tough test for us.

“We had a very upbeat training session yesterday as well, they boys are feeling on top of things and it should be a good game.”

Photo: One eye on next season, says Sheens