DEWSBURY RAMS coach Lee Greenwood expects a tough challenge this weekend from an in-form Sheffield Eagles – and particularly from a number of returning players.
Josh Guzdek, James Glover and Aaron Brown all departed the Rams for South Yorkshire at the end of last season, and will come back to the Tetley’s Stadium for the first time on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).
Dewsbury finished five points ahead of the Eagles in 2018, but that has already been reversed with Sheffield winning four of their opening five games and sitting second in the Championship table.
Greenwood says that he admires the job that his opposite number Mark Aston has done.
“They’ve recruited well this time,” he said. “I’m guessing Mark was disappointed with last year’s group and how they performed so he’s done what most coaches try to do: retain the guys that they want to retain, that they know are good blokes and up to Championship level, and bring in guys that they think can improve the squad.
“Nobody can argue with that at the moment; they’ve played five and won four, and they had a man sent off last week which went a long way to deciding that game at Featherstone.
“They’re a good side, full of Championship-quality players that have been around a bit, and they’ve recruited well this time and picked off some of the better players from other clubs.
“That’s the game, and we’ve probably come at a loss there because three of Dewsbury’s starting players from last year’s team have gone there.
“There’s no way you want to go back to your old club and not perform and lose, so they’ll be up for it.”
Greenwood says that there will be changes to his own side after a 26-0 defeat at Halifax last weekend.
“It was a real disappointment. It was a comprehensive defeat, which in those conditions shouldn’t have happened,” he reflected.
“There will be changes this week to how we prepare, as coaches and maybe a few guys can get a chance this week to stake their claim for a regular spot.
“There’s a lot of work to do, and even though we’ve been competitive and maybe should have come back with more points from the first four games, I know behind the scenes there is a lot of work to do.
“There will be changes to the team most weeks as we try to find the right formula and get down to the blokes who we want to keep and who will take this club forward.”
The Rams have been busy on recruitment, with veteran half-back Liam Finn re-joining the club and Leeds Rhinos academy players Muizz Mustapha and Owen Trout – brother of Dewsbury’s Kyle – coming in on month-loan deals.
On Finn, he said: “We’ve got him on a permanent deal rather than a loan and he’s also signed for next year as well, so we’re starting to piece together next year’s squad as well.
“He’ll still be a good player at this level for this season and next season at least. It’s good to get someone like Liam Finn; we do need some leaders and some experienced players to guide the team around and he obviously fits the bill.
“These two (Mustapha and Trout) are a bit different to the other guys we’ve brought in. They’re still academy age and they’ve been offered to us.
“There’s the potential that the loans could be longer, and they’re local lads as well so if things don’t work out at Leeds in the future, they could be guys we potentially look at.”
That’s the route that former Rhinos academy captain Harvey Whiteley has taken, joining the club permanently at the start of the season.
He has been recovering from a shoulder operation, but has returned to full-contact training this week and is in contention for a debut.