Batley Bulldogs v Hunslet RLFC: Thornton excited by Bulldogs challenge

Gary Thornton.
Gary Thornton.
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HUNSLET COACH Gary Thornton is keen to see his new-look team in action against strong opposition tomorrow.

Hunslet, the only Betfred League One side in the competition, open their Yorkshire Cup campaign against Batley Bulldogs at Odsal (1pm).

Matt Diskin.

Matt Diskin.

It is a tough start for Hunslet whose league campaign does not begin until February 24, three weeks after Bulldogs’ Betfred Championship season kicks off.

But Hunslet are ambitious to be among the promotion contenders this year and Thornton insisted: “It is a great opportunity early doors to see where we are and what we need to fix up.”

Thornton has rebuilt his squad since Hunslet finished a disappointing seventh in League One last year, missing out on the play-offs.

“It will be a bit of a mix of new and old,” he said of his side for tomorrow. “We’ve brought a lot of new players in and it is an opportunity to have a look at them. Most of the new players will play, but Josh Tonks is not available – he has a two-match ban carried over from last season.”

Hunslet also have an injury concern over Zach Braham.

“He is having a scan on his broken arm, which is not healing properly,” Thornton said.

Aiden Hema has been visiting family in New Zealand and will not be back until next weekend.

Bulldogs, who began their pre-season campaign with a 16-10 victory over Dewsbury Rams on Boxing Day, are in the competition to win it, according to their team boss Matt Diskin.

Diskin insisted his side will be taking their Yorkshire Cup ties “more seriously than most pre-season games” and stressed: “We want to compete and go as far as we can.

“If it was tiddlywinks we would want to win it, but also we need to gear up for the Championship season and I expect to see quite a bit of rotation within our squad. We’ve a lot more quality in our squad this year so performances shouldn’t dip when that happens.”

All eight competing clubs will play three matches with round one losers going into a plate competition. The semi-finals will be next weekend and finals on January 20.