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We can’t afford to lose focus, says Sheens

Head coach Tim Sheens has challenged his Hull Kingston Rovers side to focus only on beating Widnes Vikings at KCOM Craven Park tomorrow, warning of the dangers of being distracted by thoughts of promotion.

The Robins could seal a return to Super League with victory over the Vikings at KCOM Craven Park this weekend but will be relying on Warrington Wolves beating Leigh Centurions in the other Saturday afternoon kick-off in order for that to happen.

But warning his men they are facing their toughest test of the 2017 season so far against an in-form Widnes side, Sheens says he’s made it clear to the squad where he expects their attentions to be.

“We’ve talked about the various scenarios and said that’s for the media, the supporters and the other peripheral people around the squad to discuss. It’s not our job within the playing group to think about those things, for us it’s about handling our preparation.

“We need to focus on the processes this week because it’s those that lead to the outcome. You don’t skip them and look at the outcome first. Winning this game doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll be promoted, losing it doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t be. It just comes down to focusing on this game and this week.

“I won’t be interested in the Warrington versus Leigh game even with 15 minutes to go. Who knows where we are going to be at that point in our match and it’s just going to be about us winning.

“The fans may know what’s going on at Warrington but I don’t want to and I don’t want my players to, because winning is what we need to do. Whether Warrington win our not, we still want to win this game.

“We’re focusing on where we want to finish each set of six, what we want to do in defence, completing high and cutting out basic errors. The game is made up of tackling, running and passing and putting it all together in a team effort. You do it well enough, you look up and the scoreline is in your favour. If you don’t do those things, you’re going to get beat.

“We need to keep our focus internal on things like that rather than looking at what may or may not be happening after the game. It’s not always easy to do because there’s so many influences around the players at home and in the papers, but it’s not going to come from us.”

Rovers have made one change to the 19-man squad which was named for the victory over Featherstone Rovers last week with Jordan Abdull recalled from injury in place of Robbie Mulhern.

The Vikings are without Rhys Hanbury, Danny Craven and Chris Bridge who all picked up injuries in their team’s win over Leigh Centurions last time out.

“I think this will be the toughest game we’ve had so far this year,” Sheens added. “We want to win, they want to win it and we’re expecting a very tough game.

“I think they’ve been the best performing side in this competition if you look at their form over the last few weeks. They’ve really been going well and although I know they’ve got a few issues, I’m expecting a strong Widnes side who’ll turn up to play.

“They’re a big, strong side, they’ve got a good kicking game and they’ve got a good pack of forwards who we’ve been playing well together and getting on top of the opposition.

“They’ve got a few issues with their spine but the options they’ve got to bring in are still very good players who have been playing Super League all year. They’re battled hardened and whilst we are also, it’s not to that level.

“It’s a real challenge for our players to raise themselves to the level that we did against Leigh this year and those were two tough games whereas Widnes blew them away last week, so that shows how tough this will be.”

Photo: We can’t afford to lose focus, says Sheens