THEY LOCKED horns regularly at the top of the sport as international coaches but now Hull KR’s Tim Sheens and Catalans Dragons’ Steve McNamara are in a tense battle for Super League points.
They have just one win between them so far in the new season, Rovers actually beating the French club at KCOM Craven Park last month, ahead of tomorrow’s re-match in Perpignan.
Sheens, of course, was Australia coach between 2009 and 2015, winning the 2013 World Cup, while Hull-born McNamara overlapped as England chief from 2010 to 2015.
“I faced Tony Smith, too, before Steve,” he recalled.
“England were always very competitive, particularly over here. In fact, in the early days we played most of the Four Nations here.
“They beat the Kiwis and we played England in the final (in 2009 and 2011). It was always a tough game. Steve and I know each other pretty well but we’ll be on opposite sides of the bench this weekend.
We’ve only had the one victory and they haven’t had a win (in the opening four games) so both clubs are going to be very, very desperate for the win.Hull KR coach, Tim Sheens
“We’ve only had the one victory and they haven’t had a win (in the opening four games) so both clubs are going to be very, very desperate for the win.
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“But slow starts doesn’t mean the end of your season and a good start doesn’t mean you’re going to end up in the top-four either.
“We’ll just take it as another game – a tough game, obviously in their backyard – and having beaten them recently they will be really smarting on that.
“I know they were after the game; they were criticised and they will be very, very ready to play. We’ve talked about that.”
Meanwhile, Sheens says the club are taking extra caution with James Donaldson as the 26-year-old prepares to return after a third knee reconstruction.
The ex-Bradford Bulls back-row was included in the 19-man squad for last week’s postponed game against Castleford Tigers but this week starts his comeback on dual-registration duty with York City Knights in League 1.
“We want to be really conservative with Donno,” said Sheens. “He’s been wanting to play – I wouldn’t say ready to play – for over a month.
“But we’re taking the best route as with it being a third injury – the second to one knee – it really does put him under pressure.
“His career’s hanging there on that now so I, nor the staff, don’t want to push him too early. But he’s ready to start this week (with York) and build up back into his first-grade career.”