Hull KR 18 Salford 19: Webster uncertain over his future after relegation

Hull Kingston Rovers' Josh Mantellato applauds the fans after they lost the First Utility Super League, Million Pound Game.
Hull Kingston Rovers' Josh Mantellato applauds the fans after they lost the First Utility Super League, Million Pound Game.
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Hull KR interim head coach James Webster admits he is facing an uncertain future but he is sure Super League will be weaker for the absence of his club.

Rovers were relegated to the Championship in dramatic fashion following an agonising 19-18 defeat by Salford in golden point extra time in the controversial Million-Pound Game.

Fans and players will wait discover the full ramifications of the defeat as chairman Neil Hudgell ponders whether to stick with a full-time team after losing around £1million in central funding.

“I wouldn’t have a clue (about my future),” said Webster, who has been in charge of Rovers since March and was due to become an assistant to new head coach Tim Sheens, the former Australian national coach who has quit as football director at Salford.

“It’s what happens with relegation and when all the funding in the top league is nowhere near the same in the second.

“Contracts are only for Super League, nothing less, and that’s the way the league want to run it.

“There’s a debate for another day about whether that’s correct but this club has 50 people walking out of this ground not knowing if they’ve got a job.

“Neil and Rob (Crosland) have been tremendous supporters of this club for quite some time. The competition is weakened by the result today.”

Hull KR looked assured of their place in the top flight when leading 18-10 with just two minutes left but conceded two late tries and watched on helplessly as Salford full-back Gareth O’Brien snatched victory in the first minute of extra time with a 50-metre drop goal.

“Congratulations to Salford, they came up with three really good plays to win the game,” Webster said.

“They’re a team that could strike from distance, we knew that.

“I’m proud of the boys, they put every single thing into it and that was a real high-quality game. There wasn’t two many errors, it was one of the better games you’ll see this year.

“The changing room is not a great place to be. It’s hard for big physical men who the public think are superhuman to drop to the floor in tears.

“It’s tough to see kids come in to see their fathers with their dad having the full understanding about how he’s going to pay the bills. That’s the realisation, it’s how this sport decides to run its business.

“I find it hard that a working-class sport can glorify something like this. This game has been glorified as a final - how is it a final? I can’t fathom it all. I’m not saying that as a person who is in this situation: if we’d won I’d have said the same.”

Salford coach Ian Watson spoke of his relief but admits he has plenty of sympathy for his counterpart and criticised the play-off format.

“I don’t like it ,” Watson said. “Today was glammed up like a Grand Final but it’s a real serious game.

“I do believe in promotion and relegation, I just don’t believe you should play off to decide relegation, you play off to wing things.

“There’s a big sense of relief because we felt harshly done to by losing six points (for a salary-cap breach). I feel for Hull KR and what they are going to go through in the next couple of weeks.

“I feel pleased and proud of the boys. It will be a real sense of achievement when they look back.”

Tries from wingers Niall Evalds and Greg Johnson in the last two minutes enabled Salford to draw level and, although O’Brien could not add either conversion, he hit the target with his ambitious drop goal.

“I’ve seen last-minute drop goals before but never one like that,” added Watson. “It was a massive play by Gaz O’Brien to be fair.

“He’s a tremendous kicker of the ball but I don’t think he’ll ever kick one like that again.”