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Every pre-friendly this weekend and what we can learn from them

As we creep closer and closer to the new season of rugby league, the pre-season picture begins to get fuller as we are treated to a buffet of intriguing pre-season friendlies this weekend.

There are nine games this weekend each with something interesting to show us about the upcoming campaign. So, here’s every pre-season friendly this weekend and what we can learn from them.

Dewsbury v Huddersfield

In Michael Knowles’ testimonial, we’re likely to see what Dewsbury can conjure up in 2022. After rivals Batley laid down the gauntlet last week defeating Bradford, they’ll want to show that they can hang with the Bulldogs in 2022 by making a good account of themselves here. As for the Giants, it’s an opportunity for Ian Watson to further his side’s development after a disappointing 2021 which still showed a number of encouraging signs. He’ll want to avoid any major injuries too, after all it was injuries that derailed the Giants in 2021.

Salford v Swinton

Historic rivals, this should be a fantastic game for all those involved to stick their teeth into especially with Paul Rowley naming a strong squad for his first outing as Salford coach with Ryan Brierley likely to make his debut. Always affective under Rowley in the past we could see whether or not he can replicate that form this afternoon. As for Swinton, following relegation, they’ll have everything to prove as they aim to demonstrate they can bounce straight back to the second tier.

Workington v Whitehaven

One of the sides replacing Swinton in the Championship is Workington who last week lost to rivals Barrow in their first pre-season friendly but made a good account of themselves. Today, they’ll be hoping they can prove they can compete in the Championship by challenging a side who finished in the top six last year. Speaking of which having lost the likes of Lachlan Walmsley over the winter, this game is a chance for Whitehaven to prove they’ll still be a play-off contender this year and that last year wasn’t a fluke.

Barrow v Newcastle

As aforementioned, Barrow got their pre-season off to a solid start last week beating Workington but this weekend they face one of the more established Championship sides in the shape of Newcastle. Following promotion this is a chance to show they won’t be relegation fodder in 2022. As for Newcastle, they have high hopes in 2022 and a solid performance here could show fans that they can deliver in 2022.

Bradford v Hull FC

In Danny Brough’s testimonial, his most recent side probably have more things to hash out at this stage than the side he helped guide to the Challenge Cup in 2005. Bradford’s season is just two weeks away and injury to Jordan Lilley has given John Kear a problem to solve in the halves. Last week he tried out Elliot Kear in the role last week as he looks to find a partner for Dec Patton. Will he use this weekend’s game to trial someone else in the role? As for Hull FC, in their first pre-season friendly, its a chance to get the wheels turning ahead of next season and rebuild the momentum they lost at the end of last year.

Halifax v Wakefield

In Scott Grix’s testimonial, his brother Simon has the chance to test out his new recruits ahead of a serious promotion push in 2022. The Panthers have recruited wisely going into the new year and feel like a serious threat to Leigh and Featherstone at the top. We will see if that truly is the case if they can challenge Wakefield today. Trinity will hope to go better today than on Boxing Day when Willie Poching was forced to field a very weakened side. This will be a chance for him to play some of his first team and get preparations truly underway.

Featherstone v Leeds

The last coach to guide Leeds to the Super League title butts heads with the current Leeds boss and his star-studded Rhinos side this weekend in what should be an interesting contest given the relationship between the two clubs and of course Brian McDermott’s history at Leeds. For Fev this is a chance to show they can compete with the very best in Super League laying down a marker as they look to secure promotion. Meanwhile, Leeds have named a strong squad with Aidan Sezer set to play meaning it’ll be another opportunity for Richard Agar to test combinations and get the Rhinos into gear.

Widnes v Batley

Last week Batley defeated Bradford underlining their play-off credentials. This weekend they can further cement them with a triumph over another ex-Super League side in the shape of Widnes. As for the Vikings this will be a chance to show that they can compete with the Bulldogs and other play-off hopefuls next season.

York v Castleford

York are one of the sides considered dark horses for promotion in 2022 such is the calibre of their squad and the brilliance of coach James Ford. They beat Midlands Hurricanes 46-6 last week and will be hoping to show their credentials against an exciting Tigers squad this afternoon. Castleford, under new coach Lee Radford, have a real chance at pushing for a place in the top four and this weekend’s game is a chance for them to get the wheels in motion ahead of a promising new season.

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