IT was good news and bad news week this week for Hull KR head coach Justin Morgan.
On the good news side speedster Byron Ford has recovered from his hamstring problems and comes back into the side as does French goal-kicking centre Damien Couturier. On the bad news front Francis Stephenson has suffered Achilles tendon damage while the club has discovered that French prop Sebastien Martins can't play in the Powergen Challenge Cup match against Featherstone Rovers.
Morgan said: ?When we signed him on loan we were told there would be no problem with him playing in the cup. Now we find there is. He has not played for Les Catalans in the competition so he is not cup-tied. But he did not get clearance to play in the cup in time.?
Last weekend Francis Stephenson made what was a surprise return to many fans after missing a match with an ankle/Achilles tendon injury. But it flared up again after the triumph at Widnes.
The head coach explained: ?It is all about calculated risk really. He did a good job for us last week and I am not sure whether we would have won or not without him. It?s hard to tell. He went out there and got through the game and completed his job.
"It was a calculated risk but we knew we had the numbers on board to get us through the next three or four weeks. When he?s right he will be back in.?
Jon Steel has a spot of tendon trouble which allows Ford to return while David Tangata-Toa is rested and that allows Gareth Price, back after illness, to return to the side. Gareth Morton is also rested.
Missing through injury is Phil Joseph. Michael Smith starts from the bench with his second row starting spot going to Jason Netherton.
Morgan says he is is pleased to have Ford back on board after a couple of spells out with hamstring problems. ?He is a quality player and proven try-scorer and it will be good to get him back. I am looking forward to him getting some consecutive games under his belt.?
Andy Ellis will start from the bench as does young prop James Garmston and Dwayne Barker fills the remaining substitute spot. Once again Rovers face a switch in tempo and opposition as they switch from league to Cup.
Said the head coach: ?It is another change in tempo and competition. We have played Featherstone twice before this season, although this will count for nothing. We are in a prestigious competition and want to do well, Featherstone will want to do likewise. We have some momentum at the moment and we want to keep that roll going.?
Asked about possible new recruits Morgan said checks were still being made on additions to the squad - "we are always looking" - but there was no urgency as apart from a couple of niggling injuries there were no long-term problems in the squad.
- courtesy Craven Park Stadium, 3:00pm kick off
Hull KR squad: Ben Cockayne; Leroy Rivett, Damien Couturier, Jon Goddard, Byron Ford; Scott Murrell, James Webster; Makali Aizue, Ben Fisher,Gareth Price; Iain Morrison, Jason Netherton, Tommy Gallagher. Subs: Michael Smith, Dwayne Barker, Andy Ellis, James Garmston.
Featherstone squad (from): Nathan Batty, Richard Blakeway, Jim Carlton, Stuart Dicken, Richard Dobson, Steve Dooler, Craig Fawcett, James Houston, Carl Hughes, Paul Hughes, Danny Kirmond, Wayne McHugh, Craig Moss, Greg Nicholson, Gavin Swinson, Ian Tonks, Josh Weeden, Matty Wray.Like