TURNING SOUTH Leeds Stadium into a fortress is a priority for Hunslet Hawks this year.
Wily campaigner Andy Kain reckons home form is the key to newly-promoted Hawks’ chances of making an impact in what is set to be the most fiercely-contested Kingston Press Championship campaign ever.
Supporters-run Hawks will be up against a tough line-up including full-time clubs Bradford Bulls, London Broncos and Leigh Centurions, plus Kain’s former side Featherstone Rovers and ambitious Halifax.
But the half-back/hooker is confident they can more than hold their own, as long as they pick up key results on their own patch.
“We’ve not put our heads together and set any team goals as such,” said Kain, who joined Hawks from Rovers last month.
“I think we will be aiming for the mid-table area, but we’ll just see how things go.
“It’s always a bit up in the air when the season starts, because you don’t know how everyone’s playing. We will try and make sure our home form is good and be tough to beat at home.
“We want to make it a bit of a fortress and a tough place to come, which it always has been when I’ve played there myself.
“If you win a lot of your home games and pick up what you can away, it makes the season a lot better.”
Kain spent seven seasons with Rovers, most of them in a team at or near the top of the table, after earlier spells with Castleford Tigers and Widnes Vikings.
His final game for Featherstone was last season’s Grand Final defeat by Leigh.
Expectations are different in south Leeds, but he said: “Training has gone well, better than I had expected.
“The club’s signed a few good players and things are coming together.
“I’ve only been here a few weeks so I’ve missed a bit (of pre-season), but we’ve been starting to do a bit more team stuff and it is going well.
“Things are looking good at the moment.”
Kain, who is likely to make his first appearance in Sunday’s Lazenby Cup tie at home to Leeds Rhinos, is under no illusions about the size of the task facing Hawks this year.
“It’s going to be the hardest the league has ever been,” he predicted.
“Two teams have dropped down (from Super League) and most teams have strengthened.
“It is going to be hard every week. I don’t think there’ll be an easy game for anyone. Anyone can turn anyone over. We’ve got to make sure we put some good performances in and hopefully we’ll be all right.”
Kain is a big signing for Hawks and he admitted he was ready for a change.
Of his exit from Rovers, he said: “It’s just how it panned out.
“I had some good times and good seasons there, but it was the right time for me to move. I heard good things about Barry (Eaton, Hawks’ coach) and it seemed the right thing to do.”
Kain is happy to take on the mantle of a senior player at Hunslet.
“There’s a few of us with a fair bit of experience,” he said. “That’s the sort of role I play anyway – I like to try and organise and give some of the younger players the experience I have got.”
Kain had been due to play his first game for Hawks against Featherstone on January 4, but the match was called off due to problems with the Big Fellas Stadium pitch.
He admitted that was a relief, but is looking forward to his competitive debut away to his old club on Sunday, February 15.
“It would have been a bit of a weird one,” he said of this month’s cancelled contest. “But it’ll be good to get it out of the way when we play them in the league, so I can really concentrate on the rest of the season.”