KEIGHLEY player-boss Jason Demetriou has warned his ex-Halifax contingent to keep their emotions under control ahead of tomorrow night’s Co-operative Championship derby at the Shay.
The Cougars are likely to field four former Fax players; Calderdale-based trio Danny Jones, Andy Shickell and Jode Sheriffe, plus the former Bradford prop Neil Cherryholme, who was a member of the club’s Grand Final sides in 2009 and 2010.
Demetriou knows that Jones and Cherryholme, who were effectively discarded by new coach Karl Harrison last autumn, are likely to be particularly highly-motivated for the return to their former home.
But the Australian, who bought the duo last autumn as part of a high-profile rebuilding programme that also saw the former Super League stars Semi Tadulala, Michael Korkidas, Paul March and Sam Obst lured to Cougar Park, has urged them to keep their focus.
“I guess that Neil and Danny in particular might feel they have a bit of a point to prove,” said Demetriou, who won promotion from Championship One in his first season in charge.
“They’ve both been playing well for us and I think Jode and Andy are at a really good standard this year as well.
“I’m hoping this is a game that will inspire them all to play at a higher level, although it’s not something we’ve spoken about specifically.
“At the same time, they need to go through the processes and systems we have in place and not let their emotions take them away from that.
“If they do that, the players around them will be able to support them and their performances will be good.
“It’s when you go away from that, and try to impress by doing things on your own, that your performance and the performance of the team suffers.”
Demetriou, who reported no significant injury concerns after last weekend’s thrashing of Hunslet at Cougar Park, a game in which Jones booted eight conversions from as many attempts, has already brought his side to the Shay once this season, losing by 40-points with a weakened team in a Boxing Day friendly.
“I think this will be completely different, for both sides,” said the former Wakefield captain.
“We were missing a few blokes that day, but it showed us how much we needed to step our game to compete at this level.
“I think we’ll need to step up a fair bit again on Friday, because I’m sure Halifax have improved since then as well.
“Any side that goes to Sheffield like they did last week and puts 50 points on them has got a lot going for them.”