THE road back to Super League can often be a long one for those who find themselves demoted from the elite.
Hull KR, for their part, have always made public their aim to make their return as swift and painless as possible.
As it stands, they are sitting nicely after last year’s relegation, top of the Championship having won 16 of their 18 games so far ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Wakefield to face Sheffield Eagles.
With just five games to go before the split, they are already safely secured of a place in the Qualifiers – when the real business begins.
Tim Sheens, the former Australia coach charged with taking the East Yorkshire club back up, is experienced enough to know their smooth progress can quite easily be derailed in the weeks ahead.
For all they are expected to challenge the Super League’s bottom four – they knocked Leigh Centurions out of the Challenge Cup earlier this year and gave Salford Red Devils a run for their money – the reality is it will take consistent excellence to deliver.
News, then, that Jordan Abdull, their on-loan Hull FC half-back, could miss up to 10 weeks due to a broken bone in his foot is far from ideal but Sheens knows there is nothing to fear just yet.
“Our most consistent combination of Abdull and (Jamie) Ellis has just been broken so it is back to square one a bit there,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“But we’ve got Shaun Lunt in at nine and Adam Quinlan coming back so our spine hopefully will be in line.
“It is disappointing about Abdull as he helped us get that win against Leigh and give a good account of ourselves against Salford but we’re just taking a week at a time.
“If you worry about later down the line you will crash and burn.
“We’ll wait and see about Jordan after he’s had his surgery today but we’re hoping it could be just six to eight weeks.
“If it’s any more we could look at getting someone in but we’re giving Liam Harris a debut this week.
“He’s come out of our academy and has been playing really well at York.
“He’s been getting good reviews and they do like him over there.
“We’ve got other options in Danny Addy and Bobby Blair but in the mid-term we’ll give Liam a run.”
Hull-born Harris, 20, has scored five tries in 10 appearances on dual-registration for York and will relish this surprise chance.
A far more experienced player is also set for another chance tomorrow – Justin Carney.
The Australian winger has completed an eight-match ban for racially abusing an opponent – while playing for Salford Red Devils – and received his visa to make his Rovers debut.
While there’s no doubting the robust, prolific wideman’s potential, he has already left Castleford Tigers in controversial circumstances and subsequently exited Salford following an internal investigation.
Although some have questioned Rovers’ acquisition, Sheens insisted: “What he’s done, he’s done and he’s paid the penalty for it.
“He’s lost out at Salford and had plenty of time on the sidelines.
“It’s best left there from my point of view; he’s signed with us now and moved on.
“It’s what he does with us that counts.”
On his debut, the coach added: “He’s been pretty cool about it.
“He might need two or three games to get his rhythm and he’s got to learn to play with this group, show what he’s capable of and earn the right to be accepted by this team.
“We know what he can do and we’re looking forward to seeing him out there.”
Rovers have also signed Swinton Lions half-back Chris Atkin, 24, on a two-year deal starting in 2018.
Sheffield, meanwhile, are set to be bolstered by an addition of a raft of St Helens players tomorrow having signed up to a dual-registration agreement with the Super League club.
Eagles cancelled a similar deal with Leigh Centurions at the start of the week but hope to have more luck with the new arrangement.