10th March 2018, 18:00 | Featherstone
When Featherstone Rovers announced the signing of Martyn Ridyard from Leigh Centurions, it was a statement of intent from the West Yorkshire club.
It’s fair to say, although the season is just a few weeks old, it has paid off thus far.
Ridyard has been integral to Featherstone starting their campaign with four wins from five games.
🦁 @Betfred @RLChampionships action returns to the @LDNutritionltd Stadium on SUNDAY as we host @Swinton_Lions!— Featherstone Rovers (@FevRovers) March 7, 2018
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Despite leaving his hometown club for the LD Nutrition Stadium, the 31-year-old has settled in well across the Pennines.
“It’s been very good, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.
“The one thing I could expect was the enjoyment side of things.
“A change of club sometimes doesn’t work out for people but I knew it was going to work out for me, especially knowing John Duffy and the way he is with a group of players.
“It’s been really tough but enjoyable at the same time.
“Luckily up to now we have managed to get four wins from five and a couple of them have been great victories as well. It’s been a great start and I’m really loving life at the minute.
Featherstone’s impressive start to 2018 begs the question whether they can keep it going throughout the regular season.
After gaining their first points in the Qualifiers last year, they will be wanting to improve on that showing if they do make the top four.
For relative newbie Ridyard, he has compared the current crop of Rovers to a successful Centurions side he starred in.
“It reminds me of when I was at Leigh in 2013/14, a lot of hard-working lads who want to go out there and enjoy the game,” he added.
“I can see a lot of similarities. The main thing is I’m going home happy as well. It’s not a case of going home still miserable from training
“Sometimes you can still lose a game and be happy, and sometimes you can win a game and be unhappy.
“The way it is, the culture at the moment in the club, Duffs has got us all getting on really well together.”
👥 THE @KSSWakefield 19-Man Squad - @JohnDavies2491 and @Shoooolleee_man look set to return to @FevRovers action this weekend!— Featherstone Rovers (@FevRovers) March 9, 2018
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Featherstone’s early season success has been while Ridyard and fellow off-season signing Tom Holmes have linked up.
The partnership of youth and experience has paid dividends so far, and Ridyard hailed the former Castleford Tiger: “He’s a good lad, Tom. I really get on with him,”
“I seem to do that with the young lads, I think it’s because I’m trying to cling on to my youth myself!
“You can tell Tom is a great player and you can understand why he’s played a handful of Super League games for Cas.
“He’s a fantastic player, a great young kid, and he wanted to leave Cas to get regular first team games.
“Even though he was down as number 19 on our squad, he’s certainly proved he’s got that starting position as his own and he’s playing really well.”
The good work at Featherstone is not just happening on the field either.
A superb launch of their Summer Bash heritage kit has been very lucrative for the club after receiving a brilliant reception.
📰 THE special-edition #SummerBash jersey - released earlier this week - has become the fastest-selling @FevRovers shirt in recent history!— Featherstone Rovers (@FevRovers) March 9, 2018
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Ridyard says the work done by the media department can be seen by the players on a match day.
“I think there’s a definite buzz around,” said the half-back.
“We have just released the Summer Bash heritage shirt this week and obviously from the last time they wore the shirt which was 1993 when they won the Premiership, it brings good memories back to some people who have maybe stayed away for a few years.
“They are doing things right, slowly bringing people back.
“A lot of teams have lost a lot of fans over the years for different reasons but I can see a few more every week turning up.
“As long as we keep putting in the performances and bringing more wins, hopefully we can attract more fans as well.
“We are trying to play a brand of rugby which attracts more spectators.
“They are doing everything right behind the scenes, the media is really great.
“The little things from social media, like advertising the games, the Summer Bash shirt, it is great how they’re doing it.”