Championship boss reacts to pre-season opener with focus on youth and number nine experiment

We’re now less than three weeks out from the opening round of the Championship and under five away from the Super League opening weekend as well which means pre-season games will come thick and fast.

The weekend just gone, 14th and 15th of January, marked the first major scheduling of pre-season friendlies with six games all getting underway on Sunday featuring clubs from across the three tiers.

One of those games saw Championship side Bradford Bulls face off with League One’s Dewsbury Rams, a game the Bulls won twice during the 2022 season as they faced off in the Championship before Dewsbury’s relegation.

The Bulls ran out as 34-16 victors and Head Coach Mark Dunning had plenty to say on the performance with his side intent on improving on their ninth placed finish of 2022.

“I think it’s a seven out of ten performance, a worthwhile exercise and we’ve come out unscathed and that’s one of the main things in pre-season trials,” Dunning said in an interview shared to the Bulls’ Youtube channel.

After the initial comments surrounding the general success of the game, Dunning commented on a particular element that he and his coaching staff had wanted to focus on.

“We got a bit sloppy at the end but we finished the game with a team of kids really. I think there was two people over the age of 21 for the last 15 minutes so we’ll have a look at that for their development, but overall a seven out of ten.

The off-season in the Championship has seen plenty of turnover of players and the Bulls are no different to most, with Dunning being slightly cryptic in his answers regarding who will operate as hooker for the coming season.

Asked about Jordan Lilley, Tom Holmes and Myles Lawford’s positional play in the pre-season opener, Dunning responded as such.

“I think all three played at nine at some point so we’ve got out of that what we wanted, there was a clear indication of what we wanted and other people can read into it as they see fit.”

The Bulls get their second game of pre-season underway at Odsal when Huddersfield Giants come to visit on Sunday 22nd January.

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