Hunslet 'itching' to get cracking after 14-month layoff - coach Gary Thornton excited for League One opener against Workington Town

After 14 months without a competitive fixture, Hunslet are “itching” to get back into action this weekend, coach Gary Thornton says.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 6:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 6:36 pm
Hunslet coach Gary Thornton. Picture by Hunslet RLFC.

Other than two warm-up games, Hunslet have not played since a Challenge Cup defeat at Featherstone Rovers on March 13, 2020.

The long wait will end on Sunday when they kick off their Betfred League One campaign at home to Workington Town.

The game will be played behind closed doors and kick-off has been brought forward an hour to 2pm for live internet streaming by the club.

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“We are itching to get started, it has been a painful layoff,” Thornton admitted.

“The stop-start nature of it, especially, has been tough.

“We thought we were getting going in March so we got the players back in December, but then we had to put them on furlough again.

“To have a league game on the horizon now, just a few days away, is brilliant.

“It has been a long time coming and we’re really excited it’s finally here.”

The Parksiders beat North Wales Crusaders in their opening trial game before a narrow loss to League One title rivals Barrow Raiders.

Despite three injuries from the latter game, Thornton reckons the pre-season matches were “invaluable”.

He said: “We know Sunday is going to be tough, but we got plenty out of the two warm-up games.

“We beat North Wales and were disappointed to lose to Barrow - they are most people’s favourites to win League One and we lost it in the last 10 minutes.

“Some teams didn’t play pre-season games, but I am glad we did, even though we picked up some knocks.”

The most serious of those was to Will Cooke who is facing a long layoff after suffering a leg injury against Barrow.

In addition, Jimmy Watson (knee), Lewis Wray (ankle) and captain Daune Straugheir (ribs) are all doubtful for Sunday.

That could mean an opportunity for on-loan Castleford Tigers prospect Jake Sweeting, who can play at full-back, half-back or at hooker.

Sion Jones’ spell on loan from Halifax Panthers has been extended until the end of the season, but the Championship club have a recall option at 48 hours’ notice.

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