Rival Heavy Woollen coaches John Kear and Glenn Morrison are relishing locking horns this Friday when Dewsbury Rams make the short trip to Batley Bulldogs for the traditional Boxing Day derby.
Both coaches admit their sides have been going well in pre-season with Kear describing Batley’s preparations as ‘the best since he’s been at the club’.
Morrison too is looking forward to the game as two of rugby league’s oldest rivals again clash.
Kear said: “Glenn and I have agreed that we will use 20 man squads with unlimited interchanges.
“The squad I select on Boxing Day will reflect the lads who have been outstanding in pre-season and deserve the first shot.
“They will have earned their place from what they have showed in training.
“We want to learn something from each of our four pre-season games, so we are ready to go against Workington in round one.
“We won the Boxing Day fixture last season but lost the two league games and if you were to ask me which I’d prefer, obviously it is to win the league games but we know this is still an important game with bragging rights at stake.
“We are miles ahead of where we were at this time last season. We have recruited well and our preparation has been better but Dewsbury also have a stronger squad and, speaking to Glenn, their preparations have also gone well.
“The pitch will be heavy and I don’t think you will see a points fest but what you will see is two very committed teams aiming to lay down a marker as to where they are in pre-season.
“The performance of both sides is important for us to see where they are in terms of preparations and it is the pre-season games which will ultimately decide what we run with in round one.
“This is a great tradition and along with the Wakefield-Leeds game is one that has stood the test of time.
“For as long as I can remember, my Boxing Day has been surrounded by good quality rugby league and long may it continue.
Morrison added: “Everybody wants to earn the bragging rights, even though it is only a friendly.
“I’d take two league wins against Batley over the Boxing Day but we will still be going all out to win the game.
“Whether you are a player or coach, you want to be out there on the field and we are looking forward to putting into practise some of the things we have been doing in training.”
Batley Bulldogs expected Boxing Day squad: Shaun Ainscough, Alex Bretherton, James Brown, Jonny Campbell, Joe Chandler, James Craven, Brad Day, Adam Gledhill, Jordan Grayston, Sean Hesketh, Alistair Leak, Tom Lillycrop, Scott Leatherbarrow, Lee Mitchell, Anthony Nicholson, Wayne Reittie, Alex Rowe, Cain Southernwood, Shaun Squires.
Dewsbury Rams to select from: Toby Adamson, Makali Aizue, Josh Barlow, Callan Beckett, Austin Buchanan, Joel Farrell, Wayne Godwin, Shane Grady, Dalton Grant, Matthew Haggarty, Scott Hale, Tom Hemingway, Ryan Hepworth, Kieran Hyde, Zach Johnson, Dale Morton, Jason Muranka, Jobe Murphy, Karl Pryce, Byron Smith, Rob Spicer, Anthony Thackeray, Matty Wildie, Sam Wood, Ryan Wright .