Batley Bulldogs: Harrison expects derby to go ahead

Batley Bulldogs coach Karl Harrison expects Sunday's re-arranged pre-season game against Dewsbury Rams to go ahead.

A frozen Mount Pleasant pitch put paid to the traditional Boxing Day fixture between the two clubs, but Harrison said conditions have improved dramatically since.

"We have trained on the field this week," confirmed the Bulldogs boss. "It is still pretty hard underneath, but we trained with studs on and it was okay, so I would have thought it will be on."

Harrison will go with the squad originally named for Boxing Day, as will rival boss Warren Jowitt.

He stuck with plans to give Rams' players time off over Christmas, though they regrouped for a game preparation session yesterday evening.

Jowitt said: "The players are as keen as mustard, they want to get out there and play."

Hunslet Hawks will be without only George Rayner, who is unavailable and the injured Danny Ratcliffe for Sunday's pre-season trip to Co-op Championship rivals Featherstone Rovers.

Tommy Haughey had been set to miss the game's original Boxing Day date due to work commitments, but is available for this weekend.

Meanwhile, Hawks are hoping to sign a centre – to replace the released Wayne McHugh – early next month.

"We have spoken to a couple of clubs about dual-registered players," said player-coach Paul March. "Hopefully in the new year that will come about."

Former Leeds academy, Doncaster and Sheffield prop Michael Haley will have to wait to make his first appearance for Rovers.

He is recovering from a fractured cheek bone – suffered playing for Ireland in the autumn – and was not included in the Boxing Day squad.

Coach Daryl Powell said: "I would have used him on Sunday if he had been all right.

"I was going to give him an extra week, but he has been ill and he hasn't trained."

Rovers were hoping to train on the Big Fellas Stadium pitch last night. Powell said: "We couldn't train on it on Tuesday, but conditions have been better since then."

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