Opposition Preview: Featherstone Rovers

Leeds Rhinos continue their Betfred Super League preparations this Sunday when they take on Featherstone Rovers in their first pre-season game off 2022 at the Millennium Stadium, kick off 3pm.

The game is the first warm up match for Brian McDermott’s Featherstone ahead of the 2022 Betfred Championship season. The new look Rhinos squad got their first run out at the end of last when they secured a convincing 34-6 win over Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day.

To buy tickets for the match now, CLICK HERE or phone 01977 702386 and select option 1.

2021 Overview

After another stellar campaign in the Betfred Championship, Featherstone Rovers were just pipped for promotion to Super League by Toulouse Olympique in 2021.

Under James Webster, Rovers won their opening 14 games of the season convincingly. They notably scored over 60 points on four occasions, against Oldham, Dewsbury, Newcastle and London, before Toulouse handed the Yorkshire side their first defeat of the season. Unfazed by the defeat, Featherstone returned to winning ways through to the end of the season as they added seven more wins to their tally during the regular season.

Rovers’ second place finish set up a tie with Halifax Panthers in the play off semi finals and a convincing 42-10 result by Webster’s men saw them meet with promotion rivals Toulouse in the Play Off Final. Having been within touching distance of Super League in 2019, Rovers didn’t want to come in second again, but a dominant performance from Toulouse resulted in the French side securing promotion with a 34-12 scoreline at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

The season did have its cup success though as Rovers lifted the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup in a thriller against York City Knights at Wembley. Despite nearly being cancelled due to Covid, the all-Yorkshire clash proved to be a classic as try scorers Jacob Doyle (2), Dane Chisholm, Craig Kopczak, Nu Brown, James Harrison and Craig Hall, who also added six goals, led Featherstone to a 41-34 win.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com – 17/07/2021 – Rugby League – AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final – Featherstone Rovers v York City Knights – Wembley Stadium, London, England – Featherstone’s James Lockwood raises the AB Sundecks 1895 trophy after victory over York

Off Season Roundup

Featherstone have shown their intentions to be back at the top of the Championship by recruiting strongly in the off season.

Seasoned Championship players such as Brandon Pickersgill (Bradford Bulls), Matty Wildie (Leigh Centurions) Ben Hellewell (Leigh Centurions) and Morgan Smith (York City Knights) bolster a back line that already has last season’s top try scorers Gareth Gale and Craig Hall. Luke Briscoe, who broke try scoring records at Rovers in his last spell with his hometown club, is back with Rovers after his time with Leeds. In 2021, the winger recorded four tries in 25 appearances.

Rovers pulled two mega signings out of the bag too by recruiting Jesse Sene-Lefao and Joey Leilua. Sene-Lefao was an integral part of Castleford Tigers’ 2017 squad that lifted the League Leaders’ Shield and reached the Grand Final and this year has made the short journey to the Millennium Stadium to be part of Brian McDermott’s side.

Leilua’s signing sparked a frenzy on social media as the Samoan international announced his move to the UK. The centre played for Sydney Roosters, Newcastle Knights and Wests Tigers but is widely known for his combination with Jordan Rapana at Canberra Raiders, where he also won two Dally M centre of the season awards (2016 and 2018). Overall, he brings over 200 NRL appearances and 95 NRL tries to the table for 2022.

2022 Squad

  • Brandon Pickersgill*
  • Luke Briscoe*
  • Joey Leilua*
  • Craig Hall
  • Gareth Gale
  • Tom Holmes
  • Dane Chisholm
  • Craig Kopczak
  • Connor Jones
  • James Lockwood
  • Brett Ferres
  • Jesse Sene-Lefao*
  • Jack Bussey

*New for 2022

  • Matty Wildie*
  • John Davies
  • Junior Moors
  • Ben Hellewell*
  • Josh Hardcastle
  • Callum Field
  • Morgan Smith*
  • Luke Cooper
  • Kyle Trout
  • Loui McConnell
  • Jacob Doyle
  • Bayley Gill*

Featherstone’s Pre Season Fixtures:

Sunday 16th January – Featherstone v Leeds (KO 3pm)

Sunday 23rd January – Featherstone v Wakefield (KO 3pm)

Key Players

Craig Hall

Age: 33

Position: Full back/outside back

Bio: Since joining Featherstone in 2020, Craig Hall has been Rovers’ go-to points scorer. Whether it’s tries or goals, the outside back has shown that he can do it all, especially in 2021 when only Gareth Gale (27) beat him (26) in tries scored.

Most Rugby League fans know Hall from his time at Hull KR, having spent five years over three separate stints at the club. He has over 100 appearances in Super League with the Robins and also 77 total appearances Hull FC between 2007 and 2010. During that time he scored 47 tries.

Dane Chisholm

Age: 31

Position: Half Back

Bio: Since making the switch to Rovers in 2019, half back Dane Chisholm has become a firm fan favourite at the Millennium Stadium.

Initially signed on loan from Bradford Bulls towards the end of the 2019 season, Chisholm was a crucial element in helping Featherstone defeat the likes of Leigh, York and Toulouse to set up a Million Pound Game matchup against Toronto. He was also important in Rovers’ 1895 Cup win over York in 2021 as he scored a try and kicked a drop goal.

Before Featherstone, Chisholm previously played for Sheffield Eagles, Hull KR on loan, and Melbourne Storm. He also featured for rugby union side Manly Marlins.

The Coach

Featherstone also have a new coach in 2022 as the experienced Brian McDermott has taken the reigns from James Webster.

McDermott made his name in Rugby League as a player with Bradford Bulls, where he spent nine years as part of one of their most successful ever sides. With the Bulls, he had three Grand Final wins, two Challenge Cup victories and further Yorkshire and England honours. In 2003, he retired from playing and joined Huddersfield Giants as Conditioning Coach.

McDermott then became one of the longest serving Super League coaches in Rugby League during his time at Leeds, where he won a host on domestic honours. Coming in to replace Brian McClennan in 2010, after a four year spell at Harlequins RL, McDermott won every available honour with the Rhinos, including four Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups, a World Club title and also a League Leaders’ Shield. He also coached the Rhinos to the treble in 2015.

In 2019, he took over at Toronto Wolfpack and guided them to promotion from the Championship. He oversaw the Canadian side’s first Super League matches before the Covid break in March 2020. He also consulted for Oldham and their new coach Brendan Sheridan in 2021 before announcing his new position with Featherstone in October 2021.

Team News

Pre Season Record

Leeds’ pre season clash against Featherstone has been a regular opportunity for supporters to see new signings for both sides and the next generation of rugby league talent.

Leeds’ last meeting with Featherstone in a pre season match came in 2020, as a young Rhinos side fought from 22-0 down but were eventually defeated 34-22 by the home side. Rhinos academy players Liam Whitton, Callum McLelland, Iwan Stephens and season signing Corey Hall scored the second half tries for the visitors but their efforts couldn’t overturn Rovers’ first half mauling.

In 2019, fifteen members of the Leeds squad that faced Featherstone featured for Rob Burrow’s Under-19s . Callum McLelland also made his first appearance in a Leeds shirt, proving instrumental in the Rhinos’ second half fightback that saw Tom Holroyd and Ben Markland score two tries each.

One of the most recent thrilling pre season matchups though came in 2018 when a last minute try from Luke Briscoe saw Rovers edge Leeds’ youngsters 18-16. Tries from Corey Johnson, Markland and Dakota Whylie had given Leeds a 16-14 with five minutes to go but the visitors couldn’t hold out Briscoe’s match winner

Last Five Friendlies at the LD Nutrition Stadium

Featherstone Rovers 34 Leeds Rhinos 22 (Friendly, 24/01/2020

Featherstone Rovers 28 Leeds Rhinos 32 (Friendly, 27/01/2019)

Featherstone Rovers 18 Leeds Rhinos 16 (Friendly, 26/01/2018)

Featherstone Rovers 0 Leeds Rhinos 24 (Friendly, 27/01/2017)

Featherstone Rovers 32 Leeds Rhinos 16 (Friendly, 31/01/2016)

More Information

Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com – 24/10/2021 – Rugby League – Men’s Autumn International – Jamaica v Scotland – Millenium Stadium, Featherstone, England – A general view before the start of the match

Tickets for the match are now on sale and can be purchased via Featherstone website www.featherstonerovers.co.uk or by phone 01977 702386 option 1.

Tickets will also be available on matchday however, Featherstone Rovers are advising Leeds Rhinos fans to purchase in advance to avoid disappointment

Ticket Prices:   

Tickets allow access into the unreserved seating and all standing areas of the stadium

  • Adults- £10
  • Senior*- £5
  • Juniors*** – Free

Ambulant Disabled and Wheelchair Tickets: These are available to purchase in advance or on the day of the game from Featherstone’s Ticket Office

*Seniors are aged 65 years old and over

***All juniors are aged 16 and under

Car Parking: Car Parking is available at the ground and is charged at £5 per car (subject to availability).

Official Coach Travel

Leeds Rhinos will not be running official travel for this fixture.

Featherstone’s details are:

Ground Address: Millennium Stadium, Post Office Road, Featherstone, West Yorkshire WF7 5EN

Website: www.featherstonerovers.co.uk

Ticket Hotline Number: 01977 702386, option 1

Car Parking: Car Parking is available at the ground and is charged at £5 per car.