The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Featherstone Rovers' pre-season game against Oldham is more than just that if you talk to the Roughyed's chair Chris Hamilton. Hamilton remembers an evening game against Rovers at Featherstone in 2005. His side were so depleted that they couldn't manage four players on the bench and none of the three players that occupied it were fit. On top of which they had to borrow Rovers' kit. Amazingly the Roughyeds managed an unlikely draw against Rovers. Hamilton explains;
�We were coached by Gary Mercer and David Hobbs. They instilled something very special into the players: a powerful group mentality, which the term �team spirit' doesn't quite do justice to, and was at its peak that night. Not for nothing did Rovers fortunes improve, when David returned to his home town club as head coach. Since then Featherstone have become a template, a shining example of how a club should operate and present itself-and that isn't lost on us: so I guess things have come full circle.�
Hamilton has been at the helm of the Roughyeds through the hardest times imaginable. He has had at his side a hard core of people with belief and strength, and they have come through together. A rejuvenated Hamilton looks back on those years philosophically saying;
�People can be fickle nowadays: they can also pass judgement without understanding the circumstances of situations. Your morale takes a battering. That's when you know who your friends are, and that's what makes coming through the other side of dark times so much sweeter. We've always paid our debts, and now we have a home.�
The Roughyeds have had a dispiritingly nomadic existence for far too long. Now they have a home at last, but it is primitive at best. Hamilton acknowledged this saying;
�At least and at long last it's ours and that counts for a great deal. There is a lot to do at Whitebank to make it into a facility suitable for professional sport. I'd rather have that kind of challenge than the kind we've had to deal with since 1997.�
Rovers game against the Roughyeds on the 15th of January should be a poignant one as well as a chance for two proud historic clubs to lock horns on a Rugby field. 2011 looks like being a keynote year for both clubs, albeit for different reasons.