IT IS a strange situation that James Webster finds himself in today, hoping for a victory that would actually end his reign as Hull KR head coach.
The Australian, heading up the City of Hull Academy at the time, was placed in interim charge when Chris Chester was sacked just three games into this season.
It was announced recently that Tim Sheens, the venerable former Kangaroos chief, would take up the role for 2017 with the hope being relegation-threatened Rovers will actually still be in Super League at that point.
If they win this lunchtime’s crucial Qualifiers tie against Huddersfield Giants, they – and not their rivals from West Yorkshire – will, indeed, secure the third and final automatic top-flight place for next term.
The losers, however, face the horrid uncertainty of the Million Pound Game a week from now, probably at home to Super League Salford Red Devils, with one of them destined for demotion to the Championship.
Webster wants to ensure his side are not threatened by the utter jeopardy of the latter but sees the funny side of what any success ultimately means today.
“That’s right, I sack myself Saturday don’t I?” laughed the 37-year-old, who it is confirmed will have some role at the club in 2017.
“We win – I get the sack! But it would be good. This is the last time we have the chance to do that.
“Finishing third would be a good achievement for us as it’s been a tough Middle Eights especially with four teams (Leeds, Leigh, Rovers and Huddersfield) that have stood out.
“London and Salford are good teams, too.
“We’ll see two pretty desperate sides out there and both have had a six-day turnaround to prepare for this game.
“Both will go in pretty confidently of getting the job done and 80 minutes to settle what will be a big prize at the end of it.”
Home advantage could be the deciding factor today between two closely matched sides, both keen to get their status confirmed as soon as possible.
“That’s the aim – to finish off this week,” admitted Webster.
“That said, if we have to go the hard route, the longer one, we’re confident we can still do that, too.
“It won’t surprise me if whoever loses this game goes on and wins the next one but you’d rather get it done now.
“It’s like playing cricket; you’d rather have the runs on the board and try get the other one out,” he said.
An embarrassing 48-40 loss at Championship leaders Leigh Centurions – Huddersfield were 48-10 behind early in the second period – looked like being catastrophic for the Giants but they responded with a fine win against Leeds Rhinos last Sunday to set-up today’s decider.
Webster, whose own side lost at home to now-promoted Leigh, was not surprised by their revival. “Huddersfield are too good a team; even when they were beaten this year I think their average was only by four or six points,” he said.
“They are a handful. You go through their side and I don’t see too many weak links. They are a big, powerful side and you ask yourself how are they ever in this situation they are now in?”
With talisman Danny Brough’s fine kicking game and the strike threat of England duo Leroy Cudjoe and Jermaine McGillvary, Huddersfield certainly ooze class even if they have, at times, struggled for confidence.
The stakes are undoubtedly high and Webster likens this game to when, as their wily scrum-half, he helped Rovers earn elevation to Super League in the 2006 National League One Grand Final against Widnes Vikings.
“That promotion game had a similar feel to it in that was probably something we deserved as we were so good that year and could potentially have it taken away from us,” he recollected.
“This is one where you hope everything you’ve done all year - with the bad luck we’ve had - means… I wouldn’t say rescue it but solve it at the back end. There is another week after this but everyone understands we’re hell-bent on winning Saturday.”
To do so, they can ill-afford to endure the same basic errors as they did in the first half last Sunday at part-timers Featherstone Rovers, a game they looked capable of losing until edging home 32-24.