HULL KR coach Craig Sandercock believes tonight is the “worst possible” time to face Bradford Bulls.
Their hosts may have won only once in their last five Super League games and are now favourites to join London Broncos in being relegated at the end of the season.
But having sacked head coach Francis Cummins on Monday, Sandercock realises the West Yorkshire club are likely to respond at Odsal under the command of captain Matt Diskin, who takes temporary control.
“Firstly, it’s very disappointing for Franny,” said the Australian.
“He had to put up with a lot of things outside his control there and, from the outside looking in, he was doing a great job keeping that club together.
“But when teams tend to change coaches, for the next one or two weeks players really up the ante and play well before going back, I suppose, to a sustainable level. There’s no doubt it’s the worst possible time for us to be playing them.”
Furthermore, Rovers are in some indifferent form of their own having conceded a worrying 88 points in their last two outings alone – Sunday’s home defeat to Warrington and a heavy reverse at Castleford.
“For the last couple of weeks our defence definitely hasn’t been good for a myriad of reasons,” added Sandercock.
“We know what to do, though, and have to get on the field and do it.
“On paper Bradford have got a very good squad and on their home ground are always tough to play so we’re under no illusions it will be a tough game.
“I think the forward battle will determine the outcome; they’ve a pretty big pack with Manase Manuokafoa, Chev Walker and Adam Sidlow, who’s a big boy too, so we’ll have to contain their go-forward.”
In terms of tactics, meanwhile, Sandercock admits he has adapted his side’s attacking ploys due to the fact the game is televised – and the increasing prevalence of ‘tries’ being ruled out by video referees due to obstruction.
“Unfortunately in our game we only have video refs for Sky games which I think is ridiculous in the first place,” he said.
“But, it’s 100 per cent correct, we need to change a little in terms of how we run the footy judging by the penalties we’ve seen and penalties we’ve conceded.”