Featherstone Rovers boss Sean Long hopes new half-back combination can step up in key player's absence

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​Featherstone Rovers boss Sean Long is hoping to have found a new winning half-back combination in Caleb Aekins and Thomas Lacans.

The two off season signings were thrown together in Rovers’ latest game against London Broncos and both impressed in the 50-6 victory that maintained the Flat Cappers’ six-point advantage at the top of the Betfred Championship.

Original starting half-back Riley Dean was initially recalled from his loan spell by parent club Warrington Wolves and has now moved onto Castleford Tigers while first choice Johnathon Ford has picked up an injury – leaving Rovers two players short in a crucial position.

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But young French player Lacans has stepped up well in recent matches and his new combination with Aekins showed plenty of promise against the Broncos when Mark Kherelia made his long awaited first appearance of the season at full-back following a long term injury.

Celeb Aekins won the man of the match and scored two tries after switching to play at half-back in Featherstone Rovers' win over London Broncos. Picture: JLH PhotographyCeleb Aekins won the man of the match and scored two tries after switching to play at half-back in Featherstone Rovers' win over London Broncos. Picture: JLH Photography
Celeb Aekins won the man of the match and scored two tries after switching to play at half-back in Featherstone Rovers' win over London Broncos. Picture: JLH Photography

"Caleb can play in the halves, he played at six as a kid and he helped Thomas (Lacans) and Mark (Kherelia) out and they were very good,” said head coach Long.

"Mark’s been chomping at the bit, he set up a couple of tries, scored a try and kicked goals. But it's just the calmness he brings, his talk.

"I don't like singling one or two players out, I think it was probably our best team performance.

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"We've had a tough week, but the boys showed what type of characters they are.

"They want to wear the jersey with pride and they definitely did that.

"It could have gone one or two ways after a loss, but I got the response I wanted.

"We defended with 12 men and didn't concede a try, just in the last seconds we conceded. That happens and the lads are more gutted than me so it shows the type of players they are.”

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Long confirmed that the club was not looking to bring in a new half-back at this stage and updated supporters on how long key playmaker Ford is likely to be on the sidelines.

He added: "Johnathon Ford is out for four to six weeks.

"We're going to rehab him and get him back as soon as possible, but I think it's four to six."