Featherstone coach Jon Sharp admits the visit of Leeds will fulfil a dream for his part-time players, but insists they will not give the 2015 Super League champions too much respect.
Rovers beat local Championship rivals Bradford and Halifax in the last fortnight of the regular season to clinch a spot in the Super 8s Qualifiers and will launch their bid for a place in Super League with a mouth-watering first-round tie against their big-city neighbours at the Big Fellas Stadium today.
“We’re chuffed to bits we’re playing the Rhinos,” said Sharp, the former Huddersfield coach who had a spell in charge of referees at the Rugby Football League before re-joining his home-town club just over 12 months ago.
“It’s going to be a fantastic occasion for the club and for the town. It’s something our players have probably dreamed about, playing against the likes of Robbie Burrow and Danny McGuire.
“We know it’s going to be an occasion above and beyond just a game.
“It’s a massive challenge. The thing we can’t do is treat them with too much respect. We have to focus on what we need to do and not the occasion.”
Featherstone are hoping for a near-capacity 9,000 crowd for their glamour tie and that will help alleviate the club’s financial problems.
“At times this season there was a lot of talk about money and not much about football, but we managed to galvanise the group and get them focused on playing rugby,” Sharp said.
“Getting into the Qualifiers has been much more than just an opportunity for the club to get into Super League; it’s a massive fillip for the club financially and for the owner who works really hard to keep the club going.
“It’s a big cash injection that has come just at the right time for us.”