REALISTIC Hull KR head coach Tim Sheens knows his side must win today’s long-awaited city derby or risk seeing their season “slip away” already.
They host fierce rivals Hull FC for the first time since returning to Super League, the Robins having spent last year in the Championship following a dramatic relegation.
A record crowd of around 12,000 is expected to see them resume hostilities at KCOM Craven Park (12.50pm).
It is Sheens’s first competitive experience of the historic fixture, but the former Australia head coach will not allow himself to get caught up in the hysteria surrounding the clubs’ eagerly-anticipated 230th meeting.
“For me, I understand the importance of the game for the local people,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“A guy pulled me up yesterday in a cafe and pulled me from outside in to reinforce just how important it is.
“You notice with all the directors and old boys in the club and ex-players, too, and I’ve read a fair bit about it as well on the history of it all.
“I can see why people are going to turn up for this. But for me, as coach, I have to win the game.
“We’re on two wins (from seven), they’re on three and the season is starting to slip away if we’re not careful. So first and foremost winning the game is most important.
“Secondly, if you win you keep the fans pleased, don’t you? And it’s not about winning the fight anymore either. You can’t do that as they’d all be sitting in the (sin) bin and I won’t have anyone left for Monday (v Wakefield).
“The intensity of the game, though, is something people are looking forward to.
“For me, it’s playing with your head as well as your heart as the crowd will bring the emotion up, for sure. We need to deliver and give our fans something to cheer about.”
Hull KR should have captain Shaun Lunt back after missing the last three games due to a cut knee suffered, but Hull have their own captain and fellow hooker Danny Houghton returning following a calf strain suffered in last month’s trip to Australia.
Sheens said: “Lunty is the captain of the side and the general leading the team.
“He has that spark around nine, which is why he’s our number one hooker, and missing him for the amount of time we have and the reasons we did – that accident at home – has been a disappointment for us.
“They have players coming back, too, but they still have a few issues.
“With guys coming back, on paper you’re stronger no doubt.
“But sometimes it’s about not having played footy as well. We’ve got the same with two or three of our guys coming back in.
“It’s then a matter of how much you control discipline and penalties as if an opposition get a bit of ball and you’re (players are ) a bit under-done you can feel the pinch pretty quickly.
“Obviously their kicking game is very strong, too, and we need to match that.
“We lost (30-6) against St Helens last week, but the scoreline didn’t reflect the game. The intensity of that match was a plus for us going into this now.
“There’s no doubt Saints are leaders of the comp for obvious reasons, but we competed well and it felt more like an 18-12 sort of game. It was a good lesson.”
Why heat’s off Taylor: Page 20