Castleford Tigers v Hull KR: Recovery has got to start now, says Robins coach James Webster

Hull Kingston Rovers head coach James Webster.
Hull Kingston Rovers head coach James Webster.
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ALL eyes will be on Hull KR’s shamed players tomorrow to see if they do truly care about their pitiful Challenge Cup exit against part-timers Oldham.

The fifth-round defeat at home to the Championship strugglers a week ago was one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s recent history.

Rovers, of course, had reached Wembley last season and were hopeful of going all the way again only to fall at the very first hurdle with a pathetic display.

It has meant there has been the obligatory soul-searching for their players this week – or has it?

That is what head coach James Webster hopes to discover when they resume Super League action and take to the field at Castleford Tigers tomorrow.

“The proof is in the pudding,” he told The Yorkshire Post after a sobering few days.

“We’ll wait and see how we play in the game.

“We’ve prepared well but it’s easy to look good in training. We’ll see how we go at Cas’ and that will determine how far we have come and if we’ve learned anything from last weekend.”

Webster continued: “You can talk about how sorry you are and how you should have done this and should have done that but, realistically, it’s about doing it. So, go out there and do it.

“There’s been a lot of talk here before but we’re past that stage. The players have to go out and perform.”

With that in mind, those players were banned from speaking to the media this week, a board decision which Webster fully supported, as Rovers look to start rescuing their hapless campaign.

They have won just two Super League games this term – admittedly one was at champions Leeds Rhinos just a week before the Oldham shambles – and irate chairman Neil Hudgell has promised to “smoke out” the “dishonest” people among their ranks.

That suggests players could be heading for the exit, something interim chief Webster admits will be the decision of football manager Jamie Peacock and whoever the new head coach is set to be in 2017.

However, he added: “For me, people have still got a chance for the next couple of weeks but there will be a decision that is needed to be made long-term.

“If they can get the job done these next few games, those tough decisions won’t have to be made.

“We can’t right the wrongs of last week even if we win at Cas’. It’s about playing well now for the rest of the year.”

Webster – who took over from the sacked Chris Chester in March – accepts they have to begin their recovery immediately or they will be destined for a second successive summer scrapping for Super League survival.

With that in mind, it is imperative they pick up two points against a Castleford side who have been inconsistent this term but always remain a threatening opponent.

Webster said: “Performance leads to results. We need to play well. Cas want to win as well after coming in on the back of a loss. But we’re not going there to just compete or get a performance. We want a win.

“We’re playing against a good team and it’d be easy for me to say we want to perform better but the reality is we’re running out of time; we need to start winning some games.”

In the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s 36-22 loss, the 36-year-old Australian described the Oldham defeat as the biggest embarrassment of his rugby league career, including his school days.

Asked what the fall-out was like, the former Wakefield Trinity chief conceded: “It was a difficult first couple of days for sure. We’ve been in (training) quite a lot.

“But once we got the magnitude of what had happened out of the way it was pressing on for this game.”

He has the chance to make changes, thankfully, given Albert Kelly, Mitch Allgood, Graeme Horne and Thomas Minns are both back in the 19-man squad after injuries.

Prolific winger Josh Mantellato and France second-row Kevin Larroyer are earmarked for returns at the end of May.

In the interim, though, Webster says he will continue to bring Academy kids through if they deserve a chance rather than resort to loan signings.