HULL KR coach Craig Sandercock has urged fans not to expect too much too soon from star signing Travis Burns.
Nearly six months after first announcing the capture of the stand-off from Penrith Panthers, the Australian will finally make his debut against Warrington Wolves at Craven Park tomorrow.
Burns has missed the opening four rounds of Super League as he completed a huge 12-match ban given for an intentional high shot and chicken-wing tackle while playing against Sydney Roosters in July.
The 29 year-old, who worked with Sandercock when the Rovers chief was an assistant at Manly, arrived in East Yorkshire as a direct replacement for fellow countryman Blake Green, who was a favourite among the Robins faifthful before his switch to Wigan Warriors.
He will start alongside captain Michael Dobson in the halves as the hosts seek to arrest their indifferent form so far in 2013.
They somehow squandered a 20-point lead to embarrassingly lose at bottom club Salford City Reds last Sunday and the impatient Rovers fans will demand a response even against a side as revered as Challenge Cup holders and Super League Grand Finalists Warrington.
Sandercock admitted: “He’s pretty excited, as the whole club is, but we don’t want to lump too much pressure on him as he hasn’t played since last July.
“I hope people don’t expect too much from him on Sunday but he’s massive for us and just having his presence out there will be a big help. Travis is a positive type of person who is also a good talker and those qualities will help us.
“He and Michael are our number one halves pairing and any team that’s successful generally fields the same pairing for the majority of the season.
“We’re pretty confident that they’ll work together.”
Sandercock, though, needs them to start gelling fast.
With just one win in nine games, on a dismal run stretching back to the time Burns received that ban, the pressure is back on the Australian.
All the positive vibes achieved with that solitary victory, an impressive enough rout of Widnes VIkings almost a fortnight ago, was instantly undone by the Salford debacle.
Chairman Neil Hudgell has given him until the Good Friday derby against Hull FC to prove he can make the requisite improvements and earn a new deal while the mood at Hull KR has not been lightened by the revelation their new stand has been painted blue instead of red.
Rather than the attacking flair Burns can bring, however, the more pressing concern for Rovers of course is their desperately fragile defence which has leaked 30 or more points in seven of their last eight outings.
Omari Caro, Lincoln Withers and Craig Hall are injured meaning ex-Batley winger Alex Brown could also debut.