FEATHERSTONE Rovers are delighted to announce the appointment of Jonny Payne as the new head coach of the club’s ladies team. Payne, a former rugby league professional with Oxford, Castleford and Bradford, has taken over the reins as the Rovers prepare for the new-look 2018 Super League. Last term, Featherstone made it to the Super League Grand Final and finished the season as Challenge Cup runners-up.

This year, the Rovers face a raft of fresh challenges with the likes of Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, St Helens and Widnes Vikings joining the women’s top flight. Payne, who played a key role in launching Castleford Tigers’ ladies side recently, is thrilled to have been handed the Featherstone role.

“I am really excited about the challenge in front of us at Featherstone, it is going to be fantastic and I am really pleased to get the chance to coach here,” said Payne, pictured above alongside Rovers mens head coach John Duffy. “Featherstone are one of the women’s game’s longest-established teams and it will be great for the girls to face some of the biggest names in the sport. I will be looking to create a professional environment, getting the players into the best-possible shape in time for the start of the new season.

“We have a great group of players in place and signed on for 2018 and are working with local teams to create a pathway to the Women’s Super League.”

More than 30 players make up the Rovers’ ladies initial Super League squad, with the club’s recruitment drive continuing towards April’s big kick-off. Present in the Rovers ranks are close to half-a-dozen England internationals, including skipper Andrea Dobson - who captained her nation in the recent World Cup. Payne’s players will have full access to the Rovers’ medical department and training facilities, giving his side the very best possible chance of on-field success.

The new Featherstone ladies boss added: “The support from John Duffy and his team has been brilliant and the girls are really going to get looked after this year, as we strive to enjoy a memorable first season together. The club is working very hard to provide an ideal platform for the girls to really kick on in 2018 and the players are embracing it. Pre-season training is well underway and I am excited by our progress so far.

“This is an opportunity for me to put my own stamp on things and piece together an impressive team, which performs on the field and provides a spectacle.”

The ladies train at the LD Nutrition Stadium every Wednesday, from 7.00pm, and new players are invited to attend.