French test awaits Hay’s Featherstone in Perpignan

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FEATHERSTONE ROVERS are flying into tomorrow’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup test at Catalans Dragons, but coach Andy Hay admits it’s far from the ideal tie.

Rovers have chartered a flight to take the team and a group of supporters from Leeds-Bradford Airport direct to Perpignan and back on the day of the game.

The Kingstone Press Championship side are on a five-game winning run and would have fancied their chances at Big Fellas Stadium, but Hay is aware Catalans’ home form makes it a tall order.

“They’re very good at home,” said the former Hull, Castleford and Salford assistant-coach.

“I’ve been there every year for six or seven years and not come away with the win very often.

“They are a big, physical side and they play in the heat very well. They enjoy playing at home, so it’s a massive challenge for us.

“They are a real force on their own ground. If we had played them here we could have given them an uncomfortable time.

“It’s not a great tie for us, but we’ll have a go and it will give some of the players an indication of what Super League standard is.”

Hay stressed his players are relishing the task ahead.

“They are really keen,” he added. “It’s a break from the league and a freshener. Some of them have been before, but it’ll be the first time some of them have played in France.

“They’re hoping for a decent crowd and it will be a great experience for the players and staff. The Challenge Cup brings up these games and you never know what’s going to happen.

“If we get the bounce of the ball and a decent start, you never know.”

Hay is confident Rovers won’t be taken by surprise tomorrow.

“They have got quality all over the field and Ian Henderson and Eloi Pelissier are massive threats out of dummy-half.

“If we can control the ruck speed, we will be in with a chance.”