Hull KR got themselves back in the winning column in Super League last Friday with a win over Wakefield, but they travel to the Leigh Sports Village this Friday.
Rovers will be looking to avenge their earlier defeat to Leigh in which Josh Charnley’s last minute try secured victory for the Leopards and should they beat Leigh by 11 points or more then they can leapfrog them.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday afternoon here’s everything he had to say on a range of topics.
Fouad Yaha and Tanguy Zenon
“Yes, he’s got another week with us and and then he’s available for selection Friday. I thought he was a very strong last Friday and he’s definitely available for selection this week.
“So Catalans have allowed Tanguy to stay with us for an extra two weeks, but they can call him back at any time.
“So if they have any reason to call him back, they can call him back at any stage, but we’ve got the extra two weeks there that he can’t possibly play with us.
“Yeah, I thought they’ve fitted in extremely well. I thought Tanguy, for a young guy, obviously being here for that first week, showed his quality in that first game and then Fouad came last week and obviously they had each other to support each other and keep each other company.
“I thought they both played really well the last two weeks and definitely have been an asset to the team. Fouad’s an experienced player, an experienced winger, scores tries and carries strong and obviously he defends strong as well. So they’ve been two good additions to our team. Much needed.”
Yaha and Aydin escaping bans
“There was a grading there, so there was fines in place, so they didn’t escape it totally. In terms of a match, they did, which is great so I’m grateful that they could play.
Did he expect them get away with it: “I mean Fouad’s one, definitely. I just think that one was a tackle with a decision where he’s coming off his wing, put his arms around and, you know, for me it was a good tackle.
“But whenever you see a player on the floor it’s not a good look and it’s not good for the player itself. So obviously they need to look at that, which they did, but it certainly didn’t require a match.
“A fine was probably significant but whether he needed a fine or not, I don’t think so as well.
“In terms of Yusuf’s, that one was a case of we need to protect the kickers. I think a fine was the right call there.”
“He’s okay. Naturally, this time of the year, they’ve all got a lot of bumps and bruises. Every team’s got that at the moment. There’s no doubt he’s playing long minutes.
“For me, he’s been exceptional for us each week. He’ll be doing that again this week for us. He’s stepped up you know, he’s growing as a leader as growing as a player.
“As I say, there’s no doubt that he’ll have a few bumps and bruises because the way that he’s been playing is high energy every week and he’s been a big part of what we’ve been doing.”
“So with James Batchelor he’s out of the neck brace now, which is good. He’s got to go for another scan, but it looks promising there in terms of him being able to play in the next few weeks.
“There may be a slight possibility, but I’m not 100% sure around next week. We definitely are aiming for the week after, but he needs to get more scans and he’s going through obviously the steps that he needs to go through, but so far so good there.
“It’s huge for not only us as a club and a team, but for him and his family, obviously, to see him go down the way he did.
“It’s awful because we know how James plays. He’s all in. He’s physical. He’s, as I always say, he’s a player that other players want to play with.
“But when you see a guy go down the way he did and not move, it’s always a scary sight for everybody. But none more than him and none more than his family.
“So it’s great to see him training again. He’s doing everything, pretty much everything now, bar contact. So we’ll build him into that. But it’s great to see him back with the team. He’s got a smile on his face which is good.”
Ethan Ryan and the long term injuries
“Ethan Ryan’s possibly for the Derby game and then the other ones are pretty much longer term. Jordan’s longer term, Sam Wood’s longer term, Jesse Sue’s longer term. So we won’t be getting those guys back. And obviously we’ve had the retirement of Lachlan.
“So yeah, there’s a few getting closer, which is great, but then there’s also the ones that I just mentioned there that are long term.
“Yeah, so it’s bizarre how those injuries go. Obviously we saw what Ethan was initially when he did it and then required surgery, then in the space of two or three weeks he’s training again.
“So he’s doing more with us now and potentially could be ready for that derby game. So it’s good to see. Very much so.”
Is the Derby a focus?
“To be honest, mate, we’ve got a massive game this week. We know the derby is there and we know some big games are coming up, but we’ve got a massive game this week against Leigh . So that’s our priority.
“Things change, form, suspensions, unfortunately injury is part of the game and that all determines your squad the way for the week after.
“We’ve got an important game this week against a quality team. So we’re looking at that first.”
Will he make squad changes?
“Well, we had a good couple of weeks now, so we want to have some stability there. Obviously, if Ryan comes back, then we need to make a call around that. Other than that, I’m pretty sure it’ll be pretty much similar squad to what we’ve had.”
Do players need a rest?
“They probably do, to be honest. There’s probably players there that played long minutes, but we’ve just got to keep going.
“That’s where we’re at, the stage of the season where we’re at. We’re going through an important period.
“In an ideal world, you’d like to rest some players but they want to play as well because they realise how important it is.
“What we need to do is be smart and manage the players during the week so they’re feeling fresh on game day and they can go all out on game day.
“That’s where myself and the staff need to have a plan in place, which we do, a thorough plan in place around what it looks like each week and each day for individuals.
“But at the moment, we can’t sort of rest anyone on the weekends. We’re just in an important position that we need to get through.”
Recruitment and replacing Lachlan Coote
“Yeah, so we’re certainly looking at the moment. Obviously, it’s halfway through the season, obviously contracts in place, players aren’t sure potentially what they’re doing next year.
“It may be one of those where it’s more of an opportunity-based contract. Again, they’re not easy to find. We’re definitely searching and looking for that type of player and the right person.
“But as I said, we’ve got game this week. That’s our focus, but myself and Paul, obviously in the background, are working on how we can strengthen the side in terms of our depth.
“Well, there’s players that we’re potentially looking at, but again, it’s not an easy one, because it’s one of those where if you get a player from overseas then they do want to have a longer term contract.
“We’re not sure we’re in a position to do that. There’s a lot of factors involved. We did have interest from one player, he wanted to come and then the club didn’t want to let him out, which is totally understandable, it’s their player. So you’re going to have that. So, yeah, we’re looking at certain players now. But again, nothing’s finalized yet.”
What positions are being targeted?
“Oh, we’re looking at a few positions. I mean, it’s obviously full-back and halves, but because Jordan went down it’s more in that halves.
“You know, we do have a bit of cover there at fullback now, but you know, it was, if Jordan hadn’t gone down, then obviously you’re looking for possibly a fullback or even another position. But we are sort of thinning around the halves.”
“Yeah, he’s good. Obviously, going through the stages of where you realise that you’re going to be out longer term.
“Initially once he did it, you don’t realise that it is going to be another 16 weeks on the sideline but Jordan has been through this before.
“The important thing is now that we just help him off the field and get his mind right because it’s not an easy position to be in for players that have long-term injuries.
“They want to play. That’s the reality. That’s what makes them them. A lot of players, it’s a release for them, it’s what they love to do, it’s what puts a smile on their face.
“Naturally, family, close friends and all that’s ultra important to every player but when they’re not playing on the field, there’s a piece missing. So, Jordan’s going through that at the moment, but he’s getting a lot of support around him to make sure that he’s okay and he’ll be back. There’s no doubt about that. He’ll be back at some stage.”
“I think pretty much we’ve announced most of it. There will be other deals that we will announce once we work out who that player is and whether that player is going to be a longer term or whether we are looking at someone else for next year.”
How can Hull KR improve?
“I think it’s sticking to what we’re good at and doing that for 80 minutes. We did it, we started off really well the other day and then we went away from doing things that was working.
“Wakefield kept coming so credit to Wakefield, but for us, you know, just trying little sort of chip kicks when we’re making teams coming out of the corner. Taking a few little easier options or short game options to work teams over and then we earn the right to play.
“We want to find that balance of when to play and when not to play because we always talk about, we don’t want to be a team that just carries five hit ups and a kick. We still want to entertain.
“We’re in the business of entertaining and ask a lot of questions, but we also need to know when we need to build a game as well.
“So I thought that second half, when they travelled 60-70 metres, was a sign of, that’s not fatigue, but it’s concentration, attitude and for me that sort of snowballed into second half sort of performance that we produced. And as I said, Wakefield kept coming.
“So for me, what we need to work on is doing things that we do well, consistently well for 80 minutes. And just love doing that and just do it over and over because it works, the results that the games that we’ve won is playing our style and our brand of footy.”
Avenging the earlier defeat to Leigh
“Oh, certainly. There’s no doubt about it. That one hurt, I’m not going to lie. The other players felt it as well.
“It was a game there that I don’t think we played all that well but we’re still in a position to win the game and to get beaten on the bell like that, it hurts. And if it doesn’t hurt then I don’t want those players coming on the bus this week because it needs to be a team that still feels the effect of that result but uses it to our advantage to go and play against a quality team.
“There’s no doubt we’re playing against a very good team. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way they’re playing. Adrian’s got them playing a great brand of footy but again it’ll be about us. to overcome what we did on round three. Because if it doesn’t hurt, we don’t care enough.”
Losing to a last minute try
“We felt it, obviously, against Wigan as well. But I think in that game, there was a lot of ill-discipline.
“We gave them penalties, we gave them field position and you can’t do that against Leigh. So our learning, we need to be disciplined this week and we need to put the ball in areas of the field where they don’t want.
“I don’t think there’s a better team off set starts and running shape at the moment than Leigh. In terms of their shape and threat with the ball at the moment, I think they’re the best in the comp.”
How to overcome that threat?
“Well, you need to look at yourself, your discipline and the areas that you can control, your end of sets and things like that. If we control that well, then we’ll put us in a good position.”
Have Leigh surprised him?
“To be honest, no, they haven’t because I remember saying to our CEO at the start of the year, I looked at their individuals that they have. They’ve got a good team, there’s no doubt about that.
“What they’ve had is they’ve had their best players, their key players, they’ve played all year.
“There’s no mistaking that Lachlan Lam is up there as one of the best players in the comp at the moment.
“John Asiata for me is up there, obviously Charnley’s scoring tries for fun. They’ve got a lot of quality players there.
“So, yes, they’ve had their injuries mainly around the back row, but in terms of their hooker, their half and their loose forward, full-back, those spine position, they’ve had a lot of cohesion there.
“When they’re playing, then Leigh is going to be a threat to any team so to be honest, they haven’t surprised me because they’re an individually good team and Adrian’s doing a good job putting the team together.”
“Yeah, I know him. Well, I was half back at Wigan and he came over the year that I left. So we’ve had a lot to do with each other over the years.
“Yeah, he’s always a person that when I was a younger player that I looked up to, intelligent, knows the game and he’s doing great things here at Leigh.
“So, got a lot of respect for Lammy but there’s no doubt, you know, he’s got one up on us, we’ve got to try and get one back.”
“Well, we need to win any game that we play and if you look at it and break it down, the Warrington game we’re only just short. The game that we played in Magic Round, we got beat by 10 by a good side in Salford but we didn’t play anywhere to our standards that game.
“So at the moment it’s not a concern about playing away from home. It’s more around your performance on the day.
“For us, we’re looking forward to going and playing in there. They come and beat us here, so it’d be nice to be able to flip that and beat them on their home turf. So, yeah, it’ll be an exciting challenge.”
Only two points behind Leigh
“Oh, look, we know where we sit in the table and the importance of playing teams like Leigh because potentially you’re fighting for spots at the end of the year and these games matter.
“If they get the result and they go four points ahead, we get the result and we’re sitting on the same amount of points. So it’s an important game but I know it’s cliché but you need to worry about your job, you need to worry about the process first and all that sort of stuff because you’re getting that right, the results will come.
“But there’s no doubt, you’re striving to win. That’s what it’s about.”
Expectations of Leigh after their loss in Catalans
“I’m expecting that they’ll come out harder than what they did. They were 20-0 down.
“So there’s no doubt they’ll come out quicker, they score the most tries in that first 20-minute period, other than any club. So that tells us that they’re going to start fast, or most of the time they start fast.
“They didn’t do that last week, so there’s no doubt they’ll have a focus on that. Again, what can we control? What’s our start and how we start.
“For me, this will be like a semi-final type game. There’s no doubt about that. They’re on the top of their game. We’re sort of building our game again. We’ve gone through some adversity, but we’re in a position now that we can put ourselves back in that sixth.
“So if we want to be there at the end of the year, then we need to perform in games like this.”
Looking for short term recruits
“Yeah it is a difficult situation because it’s either you look to go a longer-term contract, but the problem is obviously players are locked in at other clubs or you go a shorter term and give someone an opportunity. That’s probably the route that we’re going to go down.
“As I say we’re far from finalised yet with it but it is a difficult position to be in because other players are in other clubs and they’re locked into contracts, so unless teams are willing to let players get out. Even then it needs to be the right fit for us, it needs to be the right fit for the player, there’s a lot of factors involved.”
Peta Hiku’s form in the NRL ahead of his move next year
“I watched him last weekend. He’s a player, there’s no doubt about that. In any position, we’ve spoken about it before, he can play full-back, he can play in the halves, he can play centre, he can play wing. So, he’s going to be extremely valuable to us next year. But it’s good to see he’s still in top form there in the NRL. Perfect.
Lachlan Coote receiving a guard of honour against Wakefield
“I said to the players, our family comes first. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve got a family here, like you said, that’s what we try and create, that family environment.
“To see Lachlan go out the way he did in terms of the crowd and the appreciation that they gave him, I know it meant a lot to him, it meant a lot to his family, but he’s still around, he’s still going to be a part of what we’re doing. And he’s been an important player and he’s going to be an important person as long as he’s here.”
Has he looked ahead and set a points goal for the play-offs?
“To be honest, no, I haven’t. I don’t want to go into that because then you start overthinking.
“I like to think about our game and then opposition and that type of thing, but when you go too much into that, you can overthink it and it creates panic and anxiety and all that sort of stuff.
“It’s true that you need to control what you can control as coaches and the players as well but our focus has got to be this Friday because when you go and perform and you win, then it will look after itself.
“The position we’re in at the moment, I know that if we keep winning games then we don’t have to rely on other results and we’ll be in the six so that’s the most important thing.”
Necessity to beat the big teams (3/10 against the top six compared to 6/6 against the bottom six)
“Yeah, no doubt. If you’re going to be there at the end of the year then you need to beat the top teams.
“We’ve gone through a lot of adversity this year. We’ve lost a halfback who was our number one halfback for the season, pretty much the season.
“We’ve had Lachlan out for majority. If you have a look at the games that those two have played, close to winning every single one.
“So, you take those out, then you give opportunity to other players. I think Rowan Milnes is doing a great job now. We’ve got a loan player in Tanguy who’s doing a good job.
“Once you get players and cohesion back in the team, then there’s no doubt that’s when you start to win those bigger games. And we’ve got some big games coming up, so the players that do play will be going out and looking to perform, which they have been the last two weeks.”