ANYONE thinking Hull KR will be beaten before they even step out against Wigan Warriors in the Challenge Cup tonight will be sadly mistaken.
To the untrained eye – even the trained one – it would be easy to see the outcome of the sixth-round tie as a foregone conclusion.
After all, Hull KR faced second-placed Wigan only a fortnight ago and came back from DW Stadium nursing the misery inflicted by a 60-0 Super League defeat.
Admittedly, this swift reunion takes place at Leigh Sports Village due to Wigan’s home undergoing some remedial pitch work but, nevertheless, that is hardly likely to claw back too much ground.
However, Ken Sio, the prolific Australian winger who has instantly settled in the British sport after moving from Parramatta Eels last winter, argues otherwise.
He was in the side so easily swept aside only two weeks ago but insists not just the personnel – Rovers were missing seven regulars that night – but mood has altered since.
The likes of captain Terry Campese, top points scorer Josh Mantellato and Frenchman Kevin Larroyer returned as the East Yorkshire side routed Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 54-6 last Thursday and Maurice Blair, the Australian who departed early against Wigan with a hamstring problem, is back this evening.
“We’re heading over there with a lot of confidence,” Sio insisted to The Yorkshire Post.
“We know what happened two weeks ago but we’ve moved on from that.
“The display against Wakefield shows what we are about and proved that last Wigan game was more down to it just not being our day.
“It was a disappointment but we proved we can back up after something like that with a performance. That gives us more confidence.
“We realise we have to be on top of our game but if we are, we know we can win.”
That is not just some platitude; Hull KR actually defeated Wigan 22-20 at home in March, Sio scoring two tries – his effort against Wakefield last week took him to 10 for the season – during a remarkable comeback.
Sio, who has only missed one game so far against Huddersfield Giants on Easter Monday, has proved an instant hit in Super League for the Robins.
He scored eight tries in his first seven games including a hat-trick against Catalans Dragons – a victory that sparked a run of four wins in five matches – and shows great versatility by operating at centre at times and impressing at full-back last week, too.
“I’m fortunate to be in good form,” said the athletic and swift 24-year-old, who has joined until the end of 2017.
“But there’s still a long way to go in the season.
“I am loving England. The sun has started to come out, too, which is good, and I’m just intent on doing my best for Hull KR.”
Head coach Chris Chester has hinted Sio, as much as he is a natural winger, could yet challenge Kieran Dixon and Ben Cockayne for the No 1 role given the manner in which he exploited open ground down the middle versus Wakefield.
“I’d be happy to do that,” he added.
“But if I’m playing full-back, centre or wing I’ll be happy as long as I’m out there on the pitch.
“I don’t mind any of them and just want to help the team.”
It was opposite winger Josh Mantellato who grabbed the headlines in the last round as he scored four tries and seven goals to help stave off a shock and, instead, defeat Championship club Bradford Bulls.
Sio is a fan of the Challenge Cup concept, something that is alien in the NRL.
“I’d heard about it when I was back in Australia but it’s just a different competition altogether,” he added.
“We don’t have anything like it but I like it as you know you have to be on your game and at your best as there is no second chance. It’s win or lose – and we’ve got a good opportunity to win and reach the quarters.
“To go all the way to Wembley and win it would be awesome. I’ve never been before and it’d be a brilliant experience.
“But we know we have Wigan in front of us first.”
Rovers have been more inconsistent since that earlier run, falling down to ninth spot, and, of course, there is no margin for error this evening.
They will be far more potent with Campese back in the playmaker and organiser role.
The one-time Australia stand-off has been central to their free-flowing style this term after joining from Canberra Raiders and Sio admitted: “I’m honoured to have him as our captain.
“He is so skilful, a really good player with so much experience built up but he’s such a down-to-earth guy, too.”
If Hull KR are to prosper, they will need Campese, Sio and, in all likelihood, the entire squad to thrive once more like they can.