THREE into one does not go, something Hull KR’s Ben Cockayne is all too aware of.
He was painfully overlooked for the Robins’ Challenge Cup final last summer, gaining the number nobody wants – 18th man at Wembley.
Kieran Dixon infamously got the nod at full-back that afternoon and Ken Sio, the Australian who was so prolific from the wing in his debut campaign with Rovers last season, looked set to take the role in 2016.
However, Cockayne, who like those colleagues is equally adept on the wing or at No 1, was handed the position for last Sunday’s Super League opener, the 16-16 draw against Castleford Tigers, and duly impressed with his energy and enthusiasm.
The 32-year-old is set to reprise the role in tomorrow’s game at Warrington Wolves but knows he faces a constant battle to keep the custodian spot.
“I say it all the time – I might not be the most skilful player but I’ll always bust my ass to do the right thing and be in the right place at the right time,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“There’s still things I’m not really happy with, stuff to work on, but I’m happy to be contributing for the team.
“Without sounding too modest, it’s probably my positional sense and talk that’s won me the post up to now.
“But it’s a long season and we’ve some quality players just waiting to get into the team so I have to keep doing my best and that’ll be the case at Warrington.”
It has been a tough week for Rovers, who have been embroiled in a row with the RFL after hooker John Boudebza was handed a four-game ban following his challenge that left Castleford’s Michael Shenton with a serious knee injury.
The East Yorkshire club did not think it was any different to any other challenge that occurs 20 times every game but their appeal was thrown out and, essentially, it means they are without a senior hooker tomorrow as former England rake Shaun Lunt is absent, too, injured.
Youngster George Lawler is set for an extended run at nine but head coach Chris Chester – also missing captain Terry Campese and France second-row Kevin Larroyer – can at least welcome back centre Liam Salter to his squad.
After a horrendous couple of pre-season results, they are lifted, too, by their heartening performance against Castleford when Josh Mantellato’s stunning touchline conversion after the final hooter earned them a 16-16 draw.
Warrington won at champions Leeds Rhinos in their first game and Cockayne, who rejoined Rovers from Wakefield for a second stint in 2014, admitted: “We have got a tough start.
“The first four games are really difficult so to get a point against Cas puts us in a half-decent place ready to have a crack at Warrington as well.
“One thing we took from the previous couple of weeks was we all had a good look at ourselves – players, staff, everyone – and we came up with a couple of solutions defensively which I think it showed against Cas. Let’s hope that continues.”
Rovers were ecstatic after former Newcastle Knights star Mantellato’s heroics last week and Cockayne recalled: “I heard some of the Cas boys having a snigger saying ‘Christ, have they won a cup final or something?’
“But I think to come back in that fashion and for Josh to kick from touch in a gale-force wind, it deserved celebrating.
“One thing our fans will always do is – provided they see the effort and people trying – they will always stay behind the team.
“If we’d have missed the kick and lost people would have still been there at the end cheering us off as they’d have seen us having a dig.
“There was times when our backs were against the wall but we still came back and kept fighting.
“That’s all they want to see; they pay hard earned money and that’s all they want.
“Now we go on to Warrington.”
Warrington Wolves have former Wakefield and England centre Ryan Atkins back from injury, which enables Ben Currie to revert to the second row.
Prop Jordan Cox will make his home debut against his old club as they look to build on last week’s fine victory at Leeds.