STALWART FULL-BACK Stuart Kain has been through some ups and downs with Hunslet Hawks, but he reckons the south Leeds club are now heading in the right direction.
Kain, 28, who has also played for Gateshead Thunder and Featherstone Rovers, joined Hawks in 2010 and was a key member of the team which won the Championship One title that year.
After surviving against the odds for two seasons Hawks were relegated last term, but Kain is confident they have the tools to bounce back at the first attempt.
Hawks complete their pre-season programme on Sunday when they visit Rochdale Hornets, who took Hunslet’s place in the Championship at the end of last year.
After a Lazenby Cup win over Leeds Rhinos and creditable performances in defeats by Featherstone and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Kain said: “I think we will do all right.
“The team this year is pretty enthusiastic and we have got some good young players coming through. Everyone wants to work for each other, so hopefully it will all come through in the games and we will do well.”
Hawks have been through a tough series of pre-season matches and Kain said performances so far point the way to a good year.
“The conditions at Featherstone were tough, we weren’t prepped, but it was a good chance to see where we were physically,” he reflected.
“Then we went into the Leeds game and it was a big effort from our pack. They went really well and we played off the back of them.
“Wakefield put out a strong side, but we stuck in there for the full game and got some tries at the end.
“We out-scored them in the second half and that was good for us. We are training hard, two or three times a week and we’re putting in a big effort every session. We’ve got a few young lads, which helps fitness-wise and those guys are pulling everyone else through.”
After being underdogs in the Championship, against teams with far greater resources, Hawks will be the bottom tier’s big guns, along with fellow relegated side York City Knights and last year’s beaten promotion finalists Oldham.
“We’ll be playing a few teams we haven’t played before but we’ll just see what happens,” Kain said.
“We’ll play each team as it comes and hopefully we’ll put in the performances to get what we need.
“We were towards the bottom of the league, just trying to fight out victories last year.
“It’s that sort of effort that hopefully this year will get us the wins.
“As long as we put the same effort it, with the new players we’ve got, hopefully we’ll have a good year.
“We are probably one of the favourites, but we’re not looking at it like that.
“We’ll concentrate on each game and we’ll work for each other and put the effort in.”
Warrington three-quarter James Saltonstall, meanwhile, looks set to make his Super League debut for Bradford after his loan spell with the Bulls was extended into a second month.
The 19-year-old has played in all three of Bradford’s pre-season games and impressed coach Francis Cummins, who said: “James is going to be staying with us for another four weeks or so.
“He adds further competition for places out wide and gives us some added depth going into the new season.”