‘Cougars have quality and experience’ – NaylorDate published: Thursday, July 30, 2015
SCOTT Naylor has dismissed the significance of reports suggesting that Keighley will be under strength because of injuries in Sunday’s clash of the League One giants at Whitebank.
Old-headed play-makers Paul Handforth (33) and Paul March, who was 36 last Saturday, played huge roles in the Yorkshire side’s 32-24 defeat of Oldham at Cougar Park, with half-back Handforth selling dummies left, right and centre to score two tries under the posts.
The former Castleford and Wakefield star is out with a torn calf muscle, which he did in training, and there are reports that Jode Sheriffe, Sean Kelly and Ash Lindsay, who all played the last time these two teams met, are also on the casualty list.
Wingers Gavin Duffy (shoulder) and Paul White (back spasm) also missed last Sunday’s 28-10 home win against Newcastle as well as full-back Jesse Sheriffe and centre Hamish Barnes, who was under suspension.
These four are expected to return to the side at Whitebank (3pm kick off), although Duffy is due to have a run-out with the reserves tonight to prove his fitness.
Of the 17 who stormed into a 26-0 half-time lead in the Cougar Park clash — one of Oldham’s poorest performances of the season —- only eight played last week in an impressive win which gave player-coach March’s men a league double over Stanley Gene’s Newcastle.
Said Naylor: “Injuries or not, that’s something we don’t need to concern ourselves about.
“And in any case, whatever happens, they will have a lot of quality and a lot of experience all over the field and that counts for a lot in a big game like this.”
Both coaches have played up the importance of the clash of the division’s top two in relation to promotion prospects.
Said Naylor: “We’re playing a good brand of rugby. A win would put us in a very strong position (in terms of finishing top), but we are aware that a couple of losses could send us tumbling to fifth or sixth. It’s as tight as that.”
Both March twins played against Newcastle —- player-coach Paul at half-back and David in the second row.
Said the Cougars boss: “In our division, they don’t come any bigger than this upcoming game at Whitebank.
“I’m sure the winners will go on to finish top of the table in September.”
The team finishing top is at home to the second-placed team for the right to win promotion to the Championship.