HEAD coach James Webster believes Hull KR have advanced more than any other club over the last decade and – if survival is secured – are the next in line to challenge Super League’s elite.
Obviously, that ‘if’ is a significant one; troubled Rovers host Salford Red Devils in the ‘Million Pound Game’ tomorrow with the loser being relegated.
However, Australian Webster, who first arrived as a KR player in 2005 when still in the second tier, is confident they will overcome that obstacle and then rise.
With former England captain Jamie Peacock already installed as head of rugby and Tim Sheens, the former Australian coach, set to arrive in 2017, they certainly have impressive plans in place.
Looking back on his Rovers career, Webster – who will stay on as an assistant next term – said: “When I first arrived the off-field infrastructure was nothing; they lived probably day-to-day at the time and week to week to get paid.
“Winning the Northern Rail Cup in 2005 was probably the first sign the club could progress but it was probably a saving grace we didn’t win promotion that year as, though we had a chance, we were never equipped to go up.
“In 2006, though, we went full-time, put some real money into it and obviously got a decent coach (Justin Morgan) plus some players and had a fantastic year earning promotion.
“Hull KR as a club have gone from strength to strength since and, realistically, if you look at on-field and off-field progression in English rugby league, we’d probably, in my opinion, win hands down over the last 10 years.
“The top-four and five are still the same and they always will be.
“But as a club that is able to pay for it, with a ground and the infrastructure behind it, Hull KR are probably the next cab off the rank to challenge them.”
Rovers make just one change to their 19-man squad with France second-row Kevin Larroyer coming in for the injured James Greenwood. Graeme Horne is also pushing for a recall.
Meanwhile, Robins assistant coach Willie Poching take s on the same role with New Zealand ahead of next month’s Test against Australia and the Four Nations.
New Kiwis chief David Kidwell has also appointed former Rovers head coach Justin Morgan as his other deputy.