Hull KR season preview 2012

By Gwilym LloydRL Producer, BBC Radio Humberside
Kris Welham try at Millennium Stadium
Robins centre Kris Welham started his season's best haul of 24 Super League tries in 27 games in the 34-22 win over rivals Hull FC at the Millennium Stadium

It will be a new-look Hull Kingston Rovers that take to the field in Super League this season.

There have been plenty of changes on the playing side of things but more significantly, on the coaching front too.

Justin Morgan's era at Craven Park has come to an end, and the former Newcastle Knights assistant coach Craig Sandercock has replaced him.

The Aussie is a man who will be stepping up to become a head coach for the first time and that means the appointment may be seen as a gamble by many in the world of Rugby League.

However, he has already brought some new ideas in with him and the squad have just undergone the toughest pre-season training regime that they have ever had.

Sandercock was not, for the most part, responsible for the player recruitment last summer, although he has gone back to Australia for some players.

He has signed Shannon McDonnell and Con Mika from the Knights and Mickey Paea has also come in to bolster the front row.

McDonnell will be a big hit and he needs to be after the decision to let Shaun Briscoe go to Widnes.

He will be replacing the fans' favourite at full-back, but first impressions are encouraging.

The retirement of captain Micky Vella has left a big hole on the leadership side of things.

But the Robins coach filled that void by appointing former Wests Tigers second row Ben Galea to the role, although he will miss the first two to three months of the season with a knee injury.

Rovers will also miss the services of stand-off Blake Green for at least the first half of the season.

He has got a blood clot lodged in his calf and the recovery period will be a slow and indefinite one.

Craig Hall or Lincoln Withers or perhaps Scott Murrell are the alternatives in that role.

There is no doubt where KR are stronger than last season and that is in the front row.

But the back row is looking a little more problematical.

Out wide, the addition of England international David Hodgson on the wing (after 58 tries in 77 Super League matches for Huddersfield) is a solid move and Sandercock has been given the job on the proviso that he works hard to bring through a crop of promising youngsters.

It is unknown territory for the club but the expectations are high - perhaps higher than ever before.

After four successive top eight finishes, a place in the play-offs is the absolute minimum requirement for the board and the fans alike.

And that should be achievable, because the squad has a greater depth in strength this time around.