Looking Ahead to Gateshead

Date published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013

SCOTT Naylor will have a full squad of players to pick from for Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup game against Gateshead Thunder at Whitebank (3pm).

The side came injury free through the impressive 26-10 win against derby rivals Rochdale Hornets, leaving only long-term casualty Liam Thompson unavailable for selection.
Naylor’s men take on the Tynesiders on the back of three wins out of four, including pre-season outings, so there will be no shortage of confidence.
The Roughyeds boss insists, however, that his young squad is still negotiating a massive learning curve because 12 of the 22 players are new to the club this year and four of the remaining ten are newly elevated from last season’s reserve team.
That leaves only six players still involved from last season, and two of those, Neil Roden and David Cookson, have still to figure in the Northern Rail Cup.
Naylor will drop no hints about his team choice until later in the week, but he is more than satisfied by the steady progress within the squad, while aware also that four players, Roden, Cookson, Phil Joy and Kenny Hughes have still to make an appearance in the Northern Rail Cup.
Centre Cookson missed the entire pre-season because of a six-month RFL ban, but he has played twice in the under-20s and is rapidly making up for lost time.
Said Naylor: “It’s nice to be coaching a bunch of lads who ‘Spanner’ (assistant coach Lee Spencer) and I brought together last October and November.
“They have worked extremely hard since day one on all aspects of the game and they have had the benefits of Super League conditioning programmes, Super League standard training facilities at Oasis Academy Oldham and, I like to think, Super League coaching.
“I still think they will need more time to get used to the way ‘Spanner’ and I want them to play, both offensively and defensively.
“They have all had to get to know each other in a short space of time, but off what I have seen so far I believe we can achieve our main aim this season, which is to win promotion to the Kingstone Press Championship.”
Roughyeds were today awaiting the outcome of the third-round draw for the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, which was to be made in Oxford.
Thirty-six clubs were involved —- the 23 from the two Championship divisions plus 11 qualifying amateur clubs and French clubs Toulouse and Carcassonne.
For purposes of the draw they were to be split into Pool A (comprising the 14 Championship clubs and four Championship One clubs) and Pool B (made up of the other five Championship One clubs, the 11 amateurs and the two French clubs).
A preliminary draw would determine which four Championship One clubs went into Pool A.
A third selection was to be made during each pairing to determine which club would have home advantage, although both French clubs will be playing away from home at this stage of the competition.