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Sheens: Leigh game no indicator for promotion

Head coach Tim Sheens had downplayed the significance of Saturday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie against Leigh Centurions in terms of giving his side a marker against a Super League outfit.

The fifth round clash will be Hull KR’s first competitive match against top flight opposition this season but Sheens believes the strength of both squads and the timing of the fixture after the Easter double header will have an influence on this weekend’s game.

Although Rovers will have to overcome Super League opposition in the Qualifiers in order to secure promotion, Sheens doesn’t believe Saturday’s match will have any bearing on results later in the season.

He told www.hullkr.tv: “If it was their strongest side and our strongest side, with both teams being fresh, then it might be more of indicator but I don’t think that’s the case this week. It’s more about who can last the full 80 minutes and hang in there because it’s not easy given the amount of football both teams have played over the past week, or with the travel for us.

“Leigh have got a little bit of an advantage playing at home and we know that they make it difficult to win there, but on the flip side we’ve got a few more players who will be coming back in a bit fresher whereas they’re having to use the same players from their squad.

“It is what it is, it’s a game against a team in another competition. They challenged every Super League team they came up against last year and we should be able to do the same but I don’t really buy into it being a great opportunity to see where we are at.

“The goal for us this season is getting promoted to Super League and if we were to win this game it doesn’t mean that’s going to happen. If we beat Leigh on Saturday, it doesn’t mean we would do the same in the Qualifiers if we did meet them again. Equally, if they beat us it doesn’t mean we can’t compete at the end of the season.

“I’m not stupid enough to think it wouldn’t be a fillip to get the victory and it would give the supporters and the club a boost, but it guarantees nothing at the end of the day.”

The Robins head into Saturday’s match with 10 victories from their 11 matches so far this season, with their only defeat coming at the hands of Toulouse who overcome a youthful and much-changed Rovers side on Easter Monday.

Sheens has recalled eight senior players to his 19-man squad for the trip to the Leigh Sports Village and despite expecting an increase in intensity compared to the Kingstone Press Championship, admits it’s difficult predicting what is in store for his side.

“It’s hard to say how big the rise in intensity will be this week. There’s been three games in eight days for all the clubs and they (Leigh) have been bashed around by a couple of big and physical Super League sides, so it’s hard to know what to expect this week.

“One thing we do know is that you need to complete your sets in this third game of the Easter period. We need to hang onto the football, play expansively when it’s on but just put it under our arm and take it forward when we have to as well. We need to manage the game really well and if we do that then we’ve got as good a chance to win the game as they do.

“Preparation hasn’t been ideal this week with travelling back from Toulouse and we’ve had just the one training session before we play Leigh, but it was a good one and I was very happy with how we trained.

“Nine of the 19-man squad this week didn’t play on Monday so you’d like to think they are pretty fresh. Most of them played last Friday but a few of them like James Greenwood and Ben Kavanagh are coming back from injuries so you would expect them to be just a touch underdone.

“We’ll have to manage them with the interchange but they’re very keen and we won’t lack enthusiasm. We’ve got some experience back this week and some size as well, which we’ll need against Leigh. That’s their strength and even with their injuries, you can see that it will be in the forward pack that they come at us.”

For the full interview with Sheens, head over to www.hullkr.tv now.

Please note the Rovers Retail Store will close at 3pm on Saturday.

Photo: Sheens: Leigh game no indicator for promotion