LEEDS CHIEFS’ player-coach Sam Zajac admits he is keen to contest two ready-made Yorkshire rivalries when the inaugural National League season gets underway.
Preparations for the 2019-20 campaign continue to gather pace for the new team – which revealed its full name for the first time on Tuesday night and who will play out of a brand new 2,000-capacity rink on Elland Road.
Among the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures for fans will be those against Hull Pirates and Sheffield Steeldogs, two of the other nine teams to compete in the new league.
Having those derby games against the likes of the Pirates and the Steeldogs will definitely help.Leeds Chiefs’ player-coach Sam Zajac
Under former Sheffield Steelers forward Jason Hewitt, Hull enjoyed a stellar campaign in 2018-19, winning a treble that included the regular season northern conference, together with both the north and national play-off trophies.
Steeldogs, the 2017-18 northern conference champions, had to settle for the runners-up spot in the conference last season, but did lift the North Cup.
Both Yorkshire teams will be among the title contenders once the new league – formed to bring together the strongest teams from the north and south conferences – begins in September.
And Zajac, who last season faced both while playing for hometown club Whitley Warriors, is keen for Leeds to hit the ground running and establish superiority over their county rivals.
“Having those derby games against the likes of the Pirates and the Steeldogs will definitely help,” said Zajac. “One of the first coaches I spoke to after getting the Leeds job was Ben Morgan at Sheffield and he was really excited at the prospect of having another Yorkshire derby to contest.
“It’s great for us as a new team because it means right away that we’ve got some fierce competition and rivalry there.
“And, like Hull and the Steeldogs – we’ll be hoping to make sure we are the top team in Yorkshire at this level next season.”