Gentle brushes off KR's "spin"
Peter Gentle is hoping to win the spin war as he takes his Hull FC side three miles across the city to meet their arch rivals tomorrow.
The Australian coach is desperate for his men to perform against Hull KR after two sub-standard performances against them this season, but knows it is a tough ask against one of the competition's most resilient outfits.
Despite being fancied by few, Craig Sandercock's Rovers have played their way into the top eight this season and would be worthy qualifiers for the play-offs, especially if their coach is correct in saying how tough he has had it with a small, injury-hit squad.
Gentle does not put too much store by his compatriot's gripes, though, thinking he is playing mere mind games.
"Every week KR come out and say they have a small squad and have injuries, but they are a good footy team and that's why NRL teams are coming in and pinching their players," he said.
"They also have the best half-back in the competition (Michael Dobson). We don't buy into their spin and they'll probably have a few players turn up who aren't named in the squad."
Gentle's keenness to get one over on the old enemy is two-fold; Hull's run to the Challenge Cup final has masked their stuttering bid to make the play-offs, and KR have twice got the better of them this season.
Hull were humbled at the KC Stadium on Good Friday and, although they took the points at the Magic Weekend, they did so because of an incorrect video referee decision from Steve Ganson which he later apologised for.
"We are itching for this game," Gentle said.
"Hull KR might say the same because of what happened (at the Magic Weekend) but we haven't been at our best against them in any game this year.
"The challenge is for us to be at our best. We haven't against them this year. This is a must-win game for us and we are throwing our biggest and best out there."
Gentle may well have afforded himself a smile when he read Sandercock's pre-match comments, for he spoke about his side's shortage of players and the make-do-and-mend approach he is having to take.
His team have been performing well regardless, though - suffering a tight loss at Wigan Warriors last time out - and Sandercock wants his players to keep fighting the odds.
"We've still got players out and it's disappointing for this week, but every week this season we have had between six and 12 players missing," he said.
"In the last couple of years I suppose we have had to get used to it, so it's no skin off our nose. It doesn't make it easier, but we have some young kids who are doing well in place of more experienced players, and it's a great chance for them to shine."
At Bradford tomorrow, Catalan Dragons will look to put a turbulent week behind them against a Bulls side who are back in the play-off hunt after an impressive win at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Bradford occupy ninth place on 20 points, two behind Hull FC in eighth and just four behind Catalan in sixth, with the French side seething after Zeb Taia was given a three-game ban for a shoulder charge against St Helens last time out.
The fall-out has been acrimonious, with statements and counter-statements of complaint, but Bulls coach Francis Cummins is trying to focus only on his side.
"We also had a tough patch in the last couple of months. We aren't looking at that at all," he said.
"They have a very big pack and they ask questions of you when that pack gets on top. We are expecting them at their best and we will have to be ready for them. The equation is simple for us; win all our games and we will be in the play-offs."
Tomorrow's other game sees Castleford Tigers head to Widnes Vikings with little more than pride left on the table.
Widnes were beaten 72-10 at Hull FC last weekend and Cas coach Daryl Powell has warned his men to be ready for a response.
"I'd expect them to be pretty fired up," he said.