Batley Bulldogs will be aiming to topple big spending Leigh Centurions and cause a huge upset in the opening Kingstone Press Championship game of the season on Sunday.
Back-to-back Championship winners Leigh missed out in securing a place in Super League last season but have signalled their intentions to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
Leigh have made a host of stellar signings, including Micky Higham, Willie Tonga, Rangi Chase, Corey Paterson and Harrison Hanson, and are red hot favourites to finish top of the regular season.
But Batley go into the game in good form themselves having won their three warm-up matches in pre-season and coach John Kear is relishing this weekend’s big kick off.
Kear said: “It is a great challenge for us and if you rank games in order of difficulty, this would probably be number two, with only Leigh Centurions away harder.
”We were really happy with the performance we produced last Sunday but we are not daft and know Hunslet aren’t in the same category as Leigh and we will need to take our level up several notches.”
Dominic Brambani was taken off with a dead leg in last week’s 34-6 victory over Hunslet and Kear admits he will not be risked unless 100 per cent fit but Batley have several options in the half-back position.
Batley are also preparing for a Centurion invasion with Leigh set to be backed by a large travelling contingent.
Although the game is not all ticket, supporters are being advised to arrive early.
Kear said: “We have been used to playing in front of three or four hundred in pre-season and there could be three or four thousand there on Sunday, which would create a great atmosphere and there is a real buzz about the place.”