It’s been almost three weeks since the Boxing Day action and almost a fortnight since Featherstone hosted Castleford in their New Year’s Eve clash but pre-season friendlies are back in full force this coming weekend and here’s the picks of the bunch.
Obviously the three games on show so far have featured three Super League, two Championship and one League One team and this weekend will be no different with teams from every professional tier set to feature.
Only one Super League side will feature with Wakefield Trinity hosting Halifax Panthers in Reece Lyne’s testimonial game whilst a total of six Championship, including Halifax, and five League One clubs will feature to give rugby league fans six games to choose from.
All six games are played on Sunday and they are as follows.
Dewsbury Rams vs Bradford Bulls: 2pm at Crown Flatt
Wakefield Trinity vs Halifax Panthers: 2pm at Belle Vue
Barrow Raiders vs North Wales Crusaders: 3pm at Craven Park
Doncaster vs York City Knights: 3pm at Eco-Power Stadium
Widnes Vikings vs Rochdale Hornets: 3pm at DCBL Stadium
Whitehaven vs Workington: 3pm at the Recreation Ground
Here are our three picks of the bunch.
Whitehaven vs Workington
All three Cumbrian sides play on Sunday but this game pits two of them against each other and following Workington’s relegation in 2022 this could be the last time for some time that this rivalry game takes place. Haven have made sure to bring in plenty of talent including two from Salford Red Devils.
As for Workington they’ve had to regroup following their relegation and the loss of head coach Chris Thorman, who has taken up the role of head coach at Newcastle Thunder since. With that loss of Thorman has come the loss of multiple players including World Cup internationals Curtis Davies and Alex Young.
Whilst the gulf between those two sides could be expected to show that doesn’t account for the fact that this is a Cumbrian derby and Town will be keen to show to their fans and to Haven that they’re better than their one win from last season suggested.
Wakefield Trinity vs Halifax Panthers
Whilst it feels somewhat of a copout to pick the game that features the one Super League side in action there’s actually plenty of reasons why this is a game to keep your eye on. With Trinity having already had the cobwebs blown off in their Boxing Day victory over Leeds Rhinos there are still questions about what level they will be at and this is the perfect opportunity.
Halifax will likely play a very strong side and considering they came third in the Championship last season and have added Italian World Cup winger Jake Maizen to the opposite flank of Lachlan Walmsley, who tallied an incredible 28 tries in 2022, it’s fair to assume they’ll push Trinity.
Trinity have revealed their squad and it’s incredibly strong and features all four of their new signings with three of them starting, including Langi and Proctor who missed Boxing Day. This should be a great game that gives fans from both sides, and the neutral, a chance to watch two sides who are out to defeat expectations this season. Add in the fact it is Reece Lyne’s testimonial and it should be a brilliant day to raise money for his selected charities and honour the man who has given so much to Wakefield rugby league.
Doncaster RLFC vs York City Knights
The final game of these selections is another League One and Championship crossover battle but this time it’s two Yorkshire sides facing off against each other as Championship side York make the trip to Doncaster.
Signings in the Championship have been amongst the most eye-catching but when Doncaster announced that they’d managed to pick up former Super League winner and England international Brett Ferres, they sent shockwaves throughout League One. What a 36-year-old Ferres will have to offer is yet to be seen but that’s part of why this game could be so brilliant.
As for York they’re under totally new coaching with their former coach James Ford having joined up with Mark Applegarth at Wakefield meaning that Andrew Henderson will take the reins at the LNER stadium. It was also announced today that Ireland’s World Cup boss, Ged Corcoran, would join Henderson as the Knights look forward to 2023 and they’ll have Ronan Michael to help with that. Corcoran coached the Irishman at the World Cup and the 22-year-old signing from Huddersfield will be huge for them if they’re to challenge for the playoffs.