Richard Knight expects to see a refreshed Underbank Rangers take to the field for tomorrow’s home National Conference League First Division derby clash against Hunslet Warriors.
Head coach Knight’s battered and bruised side have had a fortnight to dwell on their highly-unimpressive 26-24 win at struggling Ince Rose Bridge.
The win made it eight from nine in 2017 for the League leaders, with several senior players absent through injury on what proved a troublesome afternoon over in Wigan.
But after having last weekend off, Knight expects his players to have re-charged their batteries, and re-grouped and re-focused for the challenges that still lie ahead.
“The week off came at just the right time,” said Knight.
“We were pretty busted going into the Ince game and we almost paid the price for that.
“But having a week off has really helped freshen us up, as well as given us the chance to re-assess where we are right now.
“Obviously, we’ve made a very positive start to the season, but I still don’t think we’ve been playing anywhere near to our full potential.
“So that Ince performance has given us a fortnight to really think about what we need to improve to make sure there’s no repeat of what happened that day. To struggle like we did will hopefully act as a bit of a wake-up call and show the boys they may not be quite as good as they think they are right now.
“That’s something they’ve had a couple of weeks to think about, and I expect that to be reflected in the way they play this weekend.
“That message looks to have been taken on board with the way they’ve been training.
“And that, combined with a weekend off, could make a big difference against Hunslet.
“If we start completing our sets at a far higher rate and cut out the penalties – which is something we’re not doing at the moment – then I know how much better we’ll be.”
Even though the squad is looking in far better shape, Knight is still unable to select from a full-strength squad.
Hooker Sam Rochford is still sidelined, while fellow No9 Andy Boothroyd remains a slight doubt. Luke Pogson could step back in just in case, although that could be tough for him after missing the last six weeks with glandular fever.
Prop Dan Farrand is also absent, and Knight is reluctant to bring back fellow front-rower Dave Valentine, who underwent major surgery on a broken arm four months ago and is now closing in on a return. The head coach believes it may be a risk to include him until the surgeons give the forward the all-clear to resume.