Featherstone Rovers are being heavily tipped to feature near the top of the Championship in the 2023 season, one which looks set to be the most competitive on record as teams add plenty of depth to their squads.
Martin Vickers, Featherstone CEO, believes his side have also done that and has referenced the side’s ability to have built a squad that can compete as well as giving an overall review of the state of the club in a message on the club site.
Rovers finished second in the division last year behind Leigh who were incredibly dominant, and unfortunately for Vickers and fellow Featherstone fans they didn’t get the chance to play in the Million Pound Game as they lost to Batley in the semi-finals.
This year they’ll intend to make the big game and obviously win it as they aim for Super League in the first time in their long illustrious history and Vickers has spoken about the development of the squad in terms of recruitment but also coaching.
He said this to the club site in what’s being called “an update from the back office”.
“In terms of news around the Club the squad is coming together nicely under Longy’s leadership, since my last note we have added the quality of Caleb Aekins and McKenzie Yei to the ranks, we have worked really hard to make these moves and I feel now we have not only added depth to our squad but also delivered some younger players into our squad who I’m sure will develop and prosper under Sean’s leadership.”
✍️ An Update from the Back Office – @mart_vickers reflects on 2022 and looks ahead to an exciting New Year.
— Featherstone Rovers (@FevRoversRLFC) December 22, 2022
Yei joins from the Queensland Cup side Queensland Capras in Australia after a great set of performances at the World Cup for Papua New Guinea, whilst Aekins joins from Leigh with whom he achieved promotion last season and will aim to do so again in 2023.
Vickers also provided an injury update: “Our two main players who are in the medical room at the moment are Mark Kheirallah who is recovering well following his operation and Tyla Hepi who will also be undergoing surgery on a damaged knee, we wish both players well in their recovery.”
Kheirallah has recently been given the number 20 but some are speculating that he will operate as full-back despite Brandon Pickersgill donning the number one jersey.
With Kheirallah out of action at the moment it could be Pickersgill who appears in the side’s first pre-season game which is against rivals Castleford Tigers on New Year’s Eve, something Vickers appealed for fans to attend as he “eagerly” awaits the Tigers visit.
“We are eagerly looking forward to our Derby game against Castleford Tigers on New Year’s Eve which will kick off at 12 noon with the ground open from 1030am. We expect the majority of our first team squad to be in action as we look forward to renewing our old rivalry against our long-standing foes, the Tigers.
“Although tickets can be bought on the day, we expect to have a very strong holiday crowd so ideally please buy tickets online in advance. Our shop will also be opening 10am to 230pm on the 29th and 30th December if you want to buy in advance. I look forward to ending the year in style and seeing you all at the game.”
Featherstone will head into the season after that pre-season game and others as one of the favourites for promotion with Long building a very good squad but competition will come in many forms particularly relegated Toulouse who are always competitive, Bradford Bulls who will have the talented George Flanagan Jr pulling the strings after Huddersfield loaned him back and also from League One Invincibles Keighley who have made a huge splash in the market signing Luke Gale.
Whatever happens it’s set to be a brilliant upcoming campaign and one that Vickers is certainly looking forward to based on his comments in his 2022 summary.