DEWSBURY Rams have a half-back problem but coach Warren Jowitt stressed there is no panic for their second Northern Rail Cup group game at Featherstone Rovers on Sunday (3pm).
The Rams’ injury worries have been added to with Pat Walker suffering a fractured cheekbone against Halifax which will put him out for two or three weeks, while James Craven has a severe dead leg which is inflamed.
Jowitt said he would not risk any player at this early stage in the campaign and added: “Patch Walker is definitely out but even if James is 60-40 he won’t play on Sunday because he’s a key man. I want him fit and ready for the start of the league programme which is our bread and butter.”
Jowitt said there would be changes to the squad in any event and he intended to include such as new forward John Davies, a dual registration signing from Castleford, along with Matty Nicholson, from Leeds Rhinos, Ben Jones, Billy Harris and the returning George Flanagan.
In addition Ed Barber and Scott Spaven had run-outs at training on Tuesday and will be checked before a decision is made on their fitness. At some stage in the Northern Rail group he also intends to give chances to youngsters Jamaine Akaidere and Matthew Tebb, who have worked hard and looked good in training.
Despite Dewsbury appearing to have drawn the short straw with opening games against the two Northern Rail favourites, Halifax and Featherstone, Jowitt insists there is no panic.
He said: “People are feeling sorry for us with those tough early fixtures but I take the opposite view because playing against such strong sides helps to expose our weaknesses.
“Playing and beating lesser sides doesn’t serve any purpose when you are building your side, in fact it’s creating problems because you don’t find out about faults until it’s too late. We have only had two pre-season games and our aim is to prepare for a very testing league campaign.”
Jowitt added: “We can work on weaknesses and get the mistakes ironed out. For example Halifax scored four tries from kicks, which is clearly something we have to work on, and the others came from lazy players in the defensive line.”
Featherstone warmed up for the visit of Dewsbury with a convincing 68-0 win away to Oldham in their opening game on Wednesday.
Jowitt was pleased with the efforts of Jones, Steve Crossley, Josh Tonks and Rob Spicer and stressed: “If I had to pick my team now, they would be definites. Craig Cook played at scrum-half, he isn’t a half-back but a hooker but did enough to show he could do us a job there.
“Halifax made it clear afterwards that their goal was to win this cup to strengthen their Super League claims and they have spent the sort of money on players that we can only dream about.”
Jowitt said he took a good number of positives from the setback against Halifax and went on: “I am always disappointed with a defeat but there is no drama, I knew we had missed some good chances.
“When I studied the video I felt we squandered eight opportunities, out of those six were definite clear-cut chances with people taking wrong options, and two of them were possibles. Last year we weren’t creating so many chances in matches, so progress is being made.”
n The supporters coach to Featherstone will leave the bus station at 1.15pm and Tetley’s Stadium at 1.30pm. To book a seat call Elsie on 01924-444407.