No friendlies in rugby league

Date published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
SCOTT Naylor expects his Oldham RL players to go flat out and give everything in Sunday’s Law Cup derby clash at Rochdale.
The Roughyeds boss bills this pre-season head-to-head of the Kingstone Press Championship One neighbours as “massive” for Roughyeds fans, “enormous” for chairman Chris Hamilton and “a key pointer to what lies ahead” for himself and his right-hand man Lee Spencer.
“There’s no such thing as a friendly in rugby league,” said Naylor. “Players might turn up a little bit more relaxed than usual for the sort of game we’ll be involved in at Rochdale on Sunday, but once they cross the whitewash and start to play they’ll crave to the best they can be.
“The last thing on their minds will be the status of the game or what, if anything, is at stake.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way. ‘Spanner’ (Spencer) and I know full well what it means to our supporters to beat Rochdale and the players are well aware of it too.
“They’ll be playing for positions in the team when the season proper gets underway, just as they were last week.”
The clubs have agreed that each team will operate with seven substitutes, with no restriction on the number of replacements.
That means Naylor can showcase all his available players because, in a squad currently numbering 22, David Cookson and Liam Thompson are currently sidelined.
Added the Roughyeds boss: “It will be a step-up from the Salford game, certainly in terms of aggression.
“It would be nice to carry on where we left off against Salford and get another win, but we have a lot of hard work to do first.”
Clubs in Championship One have a new trophy up for grabs, the Northern Rail Bowl.
It will be contested by the teams finishing top of the two Northern Rail groups and it will form a double-header at The Shay, Halifax on Saturday, July 20 with the Northern Rail final.
If a Championship One side happened to get to the final of the Northern Rail Cup, the team finishing second in the relevant pool would contest the Bowl final.
Blackpool hosted eight successive finals from  2005 to 2012, but for 2013 the Championships clubs and the RFL felt the competition needed a fresh look.

The 2013 Northern Rail Cup kicks off over the weekend of March 2-3 when eight Championship One clubs enter the group stages. The top club in each of the two pools will then join the 14 Championship clubs in the knock-out stages, which commence on the weekend of May 18-19.

Oldham play North Wales, Gateshead Thunder and Rochdale  from their own group A and South Wales away from group B.