KEIGHLEY Cougars player-coach Paul March will watch tonight’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup quarter-final from a pub in Widnes which is still a step up from his most recent vantage point – a petrol station fence.
He misses the Championship club’s biggest game in years, a battle at Super League Widnes Vikings to go within one step of Wembley, due to a two-month stadium ban for abusing a match official. It has meant March, the former Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats half-back, has had to get creative.
“I’ve had a good view of our games at Cougar Park as I’ve been stood on a fence at the petrol station over the road,” he said.
“They’ve been very accommodating, letting me use their toilet at half-time and allowing me to stand at a point where I can lock myself in and not have people loitering around.
“But Thursday, with the game being on Sky, will be the first time I’ve had a front-row seat.
“I’ll travel over with the squad, like always, and speak to the players before I’ve to leave which is 90 minutes before the game.
“At that point, I’ll go find a box in a pub and watch it from there. If anyone tries turning the channel over I’ve got my iPad.”
March, 34, always denied making the abusive comments to match officials after the defeat to Leigh Centurions in March, his case strengthened by the fact a club sponsor actually went on record as being the guilty party.
It makes the punishment all the more galling for him but he refuses to be bowed.
“It is hard to take but the lads are using it as fuel for their fire ,” said March, with Keighley having won three of four games since.
“All the prep’s done during training and my assistants take the team through the game, I can’t enter the ground until 30 minutes after the hooter.”
Although it is such a significant match March has made a raft of changes to his part-time side citing the fact that survival in the Championship is more important than any cup run and they do have another game on Tuesday.
Second-row Ollie Pursglove returns for his first match since September.
Teenage forward Josh Walters is set to make his Leeds debut after being named in the Rhinos squad for tomorrow’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against Leigh at Headingley.
Walters, 19, has been called up to help plug the gaps created by the loss of Carl Ablett through suspension and Mitch Achurch, who is ruled out by a knee injury. Leeds coach Brian McDermott has also named winger/full-back Ben Jones-Bishop in his 19-man squad.
Featherstone Rovers have signed Huddersfield Giants winger Ben Blackmore, 21, for an “undisclosed” fee on a deal until the end of 2016.
Hull KR forwards Kevin Larroyer and Jordan Cox are both out for six weeks after they both suffered fractured ankles in Sunday’s 54-12 defeat at Castleford.