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Keighley Cougars coach says play-off shirts up for grabs
Jason Demetriou has told his players that places are up for grabs as Cougars bid to end their regular season on a high before the play-offs get underway.
Cougars face a daunting trip to leaders and title favourites Featherstone Rovers on Sunday, and Demetriou is demanding a positive performance.
His men have failed to win their past three outings and the departing player-coach is seeking an improvement ahead of next week’s play-off.
Finishing sixth, Cougars are due to visit the third-placed team in the end-of-season extras, which is most likely to be either Halifax or Batley, who play each other at The Shay on Sunday.
Hosts Featherstone have plenty of incentive as they look to guarantee their place at the top of the table ahead of Leigh.
Demetriou said: “It would be good to go to Featherstone and put in a strong performance because there are a lot of places still up for grabs.
“This weekend is a good chance for certain players to put their best foot forward and show that they want to make the team come the play-offs.
“For the players, this game is an opportunity to make sure they are involved in the top 17 that will be on duty for Keighley Cougars when the serious business gets underway.
“There are certain players who will rest up this week ahead of the play-offs but, other than that, shirts are up for grabs.
“I want to see players that are desperate and itching to be on that field come September 9. This is a chance for them to show that.”
Demetriou and fellow former Wakefield stars Michael Korkidas and Semi Tadulala are expected to be rested.
But Lewis Reed, Jamie Sheph-erd, Ryan Smith and Jessie Sheriffe will all come back into the team as they look to impress against Daryl Powell’s side, who have beaten Cougars twice already this season.
Demetriou, who is resting a knee problem ahead of the play-offs and will also check on the fitness of Craig Moss due to a slight knock, reasoned: “It’s important that everybody has some game-time leading into the play-offs.”
The Australian, meanwhile, reckons Rovers’ progress under former Leeds Rhinos boss Powell should be rewarded with a Super League licence in the coming seasons.
“Featherstone are a top side and have an outstanding coach in Daryl Powell,” said Demetriou.
“They have been the best team in the competition for the past three years and are likely to finish top again this year.
“You can’t fault their consistency and he’s also producing players of a very high standard through their own system.
“If you look at Widnes, who were given a Super League licence last year, then Featherstone are way ahead of them in terms of on-field performance.
“So do I think they should be pushing hard for a Super League licence? Absolutely, yes.
“Do I think they will get one? I doubt it. At the moment I don’t think anybody can predict what the governing body and licensing system is going to do.
“I hope they do get in because that would give hope to all the other Championship clubs and show that it can be done. But whether they will or not remains to be seen.”