A WEEK on from that most sobering of Wembley appearances, Hull KR’s James Donaldson says the club’s dejected players are ready to begin the road to recovery.
They were humiliated 50-0 by rampant Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup final last Saturday, a defeat that ended in tears for some and heartache for plenty.
After waiting 29 years for a Challenge Cup final appearance, it was hardly the manner in which the East Yorkshire club expected things to materialise.
However, in the brutal world of professional sport, there is little time for moping.
Rovers have a vital game against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats tomorrow which could go a long way to crucially securing their Super League status.
Back-row Donaldson, who came off the bench at Wembley, told The Yorkshire Post: “We had a great turn-out from our fans at a Civic Reception in Hull on Monday, despite the rain and the defeat.
“And since then it’s just been about clearing our heads, looking at the job ahead and not dwelling on what happened.
“It was nice to get out there (in the final) but when they’re scoring points like that, tearing us to pieces it does become embarrassing, especially with it being at Wembley.
“You can accept being beaten by a few points but being beaten by 50 is a different story.
“It is hard to take. It will be in the back of people’s minds for a little while but we have to get on with it.
“It’s gone now and we have a job to do in the league.
“We put it all to bed at training on Wednesday and cracked on towards this game with Wakefield.”
Rovers’ head coach Chris Chester was visibly upset by the events of last week and it is now his job to get the side back on an even keel.
They are in a good position in the Qualifiers given the Robins won all three of their games prior to Wembley to strengthen their hopes of avoiding the drop.
Donaldson, who turns 24 in a little over a week, said: “He hasn’t said all that much this week, to be honest. He knows he’s upset as the players are. But it was a good journey to get there; hundreds of teams started out in the Challenge Cup so to be one of the last two is a great achievement.
“Everyone can bag us by saying we got beaten by 50 but they didn’t get there did they? Where was everyone else?
“At least we made the final but Leeds just showed their class and professionalism. Against Wakefield, though, I think we definitely need to put a statement out there and show people we are a good team with good players.
“We didn’t do ourselves justice last week and I think those out there this Sunday will hopefully right a few wrongs and help us kick on which is what we need to do. We need to put it to bed now.”
The top three of the Qualifiers – Super League’s bottom four and the Championship’s leading quartet – automatically secure their place in the top flight for 2016.
The fourth-best team after seven rounds faces the fifth-placed side in the Million Pound Game for that lucrative final spot.
Having defeated Leigh Centurions, Halifax and Widnes Vikings, Rovers are the only side with a 100 per cent record so far, befitting the fact they are the highest-ranked team having finished ninth in Super League.
However, Wakefield – who came bottom in the top division – are improving and will look to punish any signs of weakness among Chester’s side in the aftermath of Wembley.
Trinity head coach Brian Smith has made some telling improvements in his side since taking over in June and they followed up an emphatic win over Bradford Bulls with a dramatic 17-16 success at Championship leaders Leigh before the break for the Challenge Cup final.
Donaldson conceded: “Wakefield have come on leaps and bounds the last few months under a new coach.”
Hull KR make five changes to their 19-man squad with Ben Cockayne – who did not feature at Wembley – Albert Kelly, Kevin Larroyer, Graeme Horne and Dane Tilse all dropping out.
Dane Chisholm, Matty Marsh, Greg Burke, James Greenwood and Aaron Ollett come in while Wakefield’s Michael Sio serves a one-game ban. Jon Molloy is sidelined due to an injury picked up in training but Kiwi star Kevin Locke returns from a pectoral problem.