Early French test for Rams

Kyle Bibb.

Kyle Bibb.

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AN earlier kick-off to Dewsbury’s season opening Northern Rail Cup group game in Toulouse tomorrow has been welcomed by Rams’ coach Warren Jowitt.

The kick-off has been brought forward from 7pm French time to 4pm and Jowitt remarked: “That suits us. The lads aren’t going to be sat round the hotel all day waiting for an evening kick-off and I don’t think they’ll run out of steam as they did in the first league game in Toulouse last year when we had the travel fiasco.”

It is the first time Toulouse have taken part in the competiton and Dewsbury have drawn the short straw. The squad left at 10am today and were not due to arrive until 7.30pm.

Jowitt said: “We’ll have time for a bite to eat and then off to bed. It’s not ideal but we just have to get on with it. We shall have a loosening-up session tomorrow morning and be ready.”

The Rams have a doubt about prop Anthony England, who has a hip problem. He was due to test the injury in a full training session and if there any ill effects he will be ruled out. There is a bigger squad this time and the side should be able to cope much better unless they run into a real glut of injuries.

Hooker Luke Blake is making good progress from his knee problem and could be available for the second group game at home to Keighley a week on Sunday but if there is any doubt regarding his fitness he will not be risked.

With a trip to Doncaster and a home game with Barrow as their remaining group games, the Rams will be fancied to qualify for the knockout stages but will need to win three of their games to make sure.

Jowitt said: “It would be nice to get a good start. I’d like to do well in all the competitions, like Batley did last year because it’s so good for the club.

“But the league is our priority. We don’t want to struggle like we did for the first half of last season. The great thing this time is that we have capable players in the background we can bring in. There’s no pressure on us tomorrow and we can go out and enjoy ourselves.”

The squad depth was underlined when the Rams Reserves won 36-10 at Featherstone Reserves last weekend when both teams included some first team players with Andy Bostock playing for Rovers.

Jowitt enthused: “The lads played really well and Kyle Bibb and Shaun Emblem had massive games up front, they have put real pressure on the other members of the pack. If they didn’t know beforehand the forwards know now that if they don’t perform there are two lads ready to step straight in.

“Kyle showed all his Super League experience and Shaun again underlined his potential.

“Elliot Cosgrove and Josh Tonks also showed up well and they’ll be coming to France. Another big plus was Ryan Glynn, who had a cracking game at centre and he gave a strong warning to Ayden Faal and Scott Turner that there’s somebody waiting to take over if they don’t do the job.

“Competition for places is what we need and shows the value of the Reserve team. I’m a firm believer in having a second string, it keeps players fit and helps first teamers to get match practice when they are coming back from injury.

“If we didn’t have a second team I’d be pushing hard for one but our chairman, Mark Sawyer, knows that and fully understands, even though it costs money to run the reserves.”