Veteran Sykes key to Rams hopes as he embarks on 20th season in professional RL

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Veteran half-back Paul Sykes is ready to embark on his landmark 20th season in professional rugby league when the new Betfred Championship season kicks off this weekend.

A new-look Dewsbury Rams side — led by head coach Lee Greenwood — begin their campaign with a trip to Rochdale Hornets on Sunday and the experience of Sykes will be crucial to how they fair this season.

Sykes joined his hometown club in 2016 following a glittering Super League career which started at Bradford Bulls in 1999 and included spells at London/Harlequins and Wakefield Trinity.

The 37-year-old always planned to see out his career at Dewsbury and is looking forward to the new season.

Sykes said: “I always said to myself as long as I am playing okay I’ll see where I am at.

“I have trained well this year and my body seems all right so when we get half way through the season I’ll probably decide then.

“I don’t know yet, I’d like to play on, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Sykes knows what the rigours of Championship rugby involve, having played at Featherstone before moving to the Rams, and will be a key figure to helping the younger players this season.

He added: “We’ve got a lot of young kids and to get them up to speed with the Championship level will be difficult, but we have got potential and I think we will go all right provided we can stay fit and healthy.

“It is going to be tough. We’ve got a new squad, a new coach and new coaching staff, but we’ve been together a good few weeks now and we’re looking forward to it.

“We’re going to be underdogs, but we like a challenge. We need to hit the ground running, it will be at the back of everybody’s minds that we need to start well and we’ve got an opportunity to do that.”