Featherstone Rovers coach John Bastian believes that his team are ready to take on table-topping Championship rivals Leigh Centurions in the fifth round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday (3.00pm).
Rovers have got off to a flying start this season but will face an equally good-looking Leigh side in Rugby League’s most prestigious competition, however Bastian says his team are confident ahead of a tough clash.
“This is such a big game between the two leading teams in the league and we are really looking forward to it,” said Bastian. “It is going to be a hugely competitive game and it is going to be a fantastic experience and atmosphere for the supporters.
“We are extremely confident ahead of the game. We have been working really hard to build a good squad and get to know each other and that includes the coaching staff.
“We have been focused on the league and have been going well but we did talk about the Challenge Cup when the draw was made and we have been allowing ourselves to look forward to it – it’s an intense but exciting prospect.”
Between Featherstone and the quarter-finals sit Leigh, who are currently top of the second tier having yet to lose a game so far this season. Bastian is aware of the threat they bring but insists that his team can match them.
“Leigh have recruited well and invested heavily this season, they pose a massive threat but so do we and it will be all about which team gets it right on the day,” said Bastian.
Featherstone have a proud history in the Challenge Cup, with the team having won the trophy three times in 1967, 1973 and 1983. Now his players would love to recreate some of that magic and go further in the competition this year.
“The Challenge Cup is an extremely prestigious competition and there are a lot of legends who still come down to watch the games who talk about the years when Featherstone won the trophy,” said Bastian. “There is a lot of history surrounding the Challenge Cup here and that will help to inspire the players.
“We do have ambitions to get into Super League with promotion returning next year and we are taking steps towards that but the Challenge Cup is completely different to the league, it’s a one-off game – you get one chance and we want to get it right.”