Refreshed Richard Knight is hoping Underbank Rangers’ three-week break will help them produce a big National Conference League Division III finish.
Head coach Knight’s men face a vital period in their campaign, with tomorrow’s clash at mid-table Woolston Rovers followed by fixtures at fourth-placed Crosfields and unbeaten leaders Featherstone Lions.
Victory in at least two of the three should guarantee Rangers a third-placed finish and a very favourable play-off draw.
And with a full squad available to Knight for the first time this season – and one he knows is in good shape – he’s feeling positive about the future.
“Over the past five years we’ve carved out a reputation for being a club that finishes the season strongly,” said Knight.
“I’m confident that will be the case again this year.
“It’s not going to be easy, because we play some of the competition’s better teams in our next three fixtures.
“But we’ve certainly given ourselves a great chance with the shape we’re in.
“Although three weeks is a long time without a game, it’s enabled everyone to get over their niggles and freshen up, both physically and mentally.
“As a result, I’ve now got a full-strength squad at my disposal for the first time, and our training session on Wednesday night was the best we’ve had all year.
“All of the noises were positive, with everyone looking forward to the big challenges we have ahead of us.
“The acid test will obviously come at Woolston this weekend, but even though there may be a bit of initial rustiness because it’s a while since we last played, I’d be surprised as well as disappointed if we didn’t put in a decent show.”
Knight is boosted by the return of key trio Michael Lang (knee), Rob Joyce (back) and Jordan Williams (ankle), who have been sidelined for several months, while half-back Neil Barrett has recovered from the hamstring injury which restricted his involvement in Bank’s last game against Coventry Bears.
But the head coach is thinking of giving an extra week’s break to influential Australian forward Matt Adam, who has been struggling with a hand injury over recent months.