Opinion: will Whitehaven have their full team in France?

After their sterling performance at the weekend to eliminate Rochdale Hornets 38-0, Betfred League 1’s Whitehaven have been rewarded with a trip to Super League outfit Catalans. Their hosts were pushed close by ‘Haven’s fellow League 1 team York City Knights and will be hoping for an easier passage into the quarter finals and it would be a great shame if the Cumbrians weren’t able to take their strongest team to Perpignan.

In recent years when Toulouse and Toronto have started in the third tier, part time teams have sometimes suffered personnel losses for various reasons including players having problems with getting time off work and visa issues. For example, Sheffield Eagles’ Ben Blackmore quit his job days before his team’s Championship Shield final against Toulouse just to be able to play in the match while York City Knights were only able to travel with thirteen players for their 2016 League One semi-final when the fixture was confirmed with only a week’s notice.

That short time frame may be something that concerns Whitehaven with their trip to Catalans coming in just two and a half weeks. The part-time nature of the Cumbrians – like the Knights – means that players will have to agree with their employers, if possible, to get the time off work to be able to travel. Unlike a game based in the UK where a team can travel there and back in a day, a trip to Perpignan generally means at least two if not three days away.

It would be a great shame if the players who worked so hard to earn the Cumbrians this chance against the Super League team weren’t able to play and this site certainly hopes that Carl Forster and co. can go to France at full strength.

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