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Scott Rhodes bemoans cup dates for tired York Acorn ARLC
YORK Acorn ARLC boss Scott Rhodes has blasted league organisers as his side prepare for a Challenge Cup run just a week after completing a gruelling National Conference season.
Rhodes’ men have been promoted back to amateur rugby league’s top tier but the head coach admits they could well be drained for Saturday’s first qualifying round cup tie at Normanton following last Saturday’s title-deciding defeat to Egremont Rangers.
He says his players have hardly had a break between the 2010/11 winter season, the ten-game autumn 2011 mini-season and then the full 26-match summer season, plus the pre-season training in between times.
The division one campaign began back in March, with the three forthcoming qualifying rounds of the cup taking the season virtually through to December.
Rhodes, who admitted his focus is now on next year’s premier division campaign rather than the Challenge Cup, said: “We shouldn’t be playing this many games. I don’t how the league have let this happen like this.
“We’ve been playing since the turnaround from the winter to summer seasons, all the way through summer and we’re back into winter again. We start pre-season for the premier division in the first week in January – what break does that give the players? They’re begging for a rest. They’re amateurs as well, with jobs and families.
“They wouldn’t ask York City Knights to play 26 league games, cup matches and then give them potentially three Challenge Cup ties.”
Rhodes also said Saturday’s match took a lot out of his players emotionally. Not only was it a big game but the day raised money for the Boxing Bowel Cancer: Chris’ Wishes Fund in aid of prop forward Nic Caldwell’s fiancee, Christine.
“We’ve got a bit of a broken changing room at the moment,” said Rhodes. “We only had ten fit and available for training on Tuesday. I think emotionally that game has drained us a bit, which makes it even harder for us, sticking these cup ties in now.
“The tie has come at the wrong time for us but we’ve got to regroup though and we will do.
“It’s a case of getting a team out and whatever happens happens.
“Next season is going to be very tough. I lot of our young players won’t know what they’re getting into – it’s a very tough league and we’ll probably be favourites to come back down again. Our focus is now on next year, not these Challenge Cup games. And that’s a shame because the Challenge Cup should be special.”
Acorn could be without Arran Thompson, Jordan Hyde and Adam Endersby, among others, this weekend. Normanton, who finished midtable in division two, could have Adam Thaler – Rhodes’ half-back partner at the Knights for a month back in 2003 when the pair arrived at Huntington Stadium together – in the ranks.
Rhodes laughed: “Adam was a good player, though I remember his brother (referee Ben Thaler) more – who probably wasn’t as good.
“Normanton will be a tough place to go but I think we’ll still be favourites. It gives us a chance to have a look at one or two lads.”