BATLEY BULLDOGS boss John Kear insists his squad must leave Headingley Stadium tonight (Fri) with their heads held high.
The Bulldogs are making their final preparations ahead of a clash with last year’s treble winners Leeds Rhinos as they aim to make it back-to-back victories in the Qualifers.
It is the first time Batley have played Leeds in the summer rugby league era and with over 10,000 tickets sold for the showdown it is likely to be the largest crowd the Batley Bulldogs players have performed in front of during their careers.
“It’s a great achievement for the players to be in this position,” said Kear, who himself last coached a side at Headingley back in 2011.
“They’ve worked really hard all year to make it into the Qualifiers and now they’re being rewarded with a trip to one of the most iconic stadiums in rugby league.
“But despite wanting to enjoy the occasion we know there’s a big job to do and the last thing we can do is just show up.
“Leeds are in great form and it’s probably going to be our toughest test this year and if we put in a performance like the one against London then we could be embarrassed.
“But this group of players at Batley are capable of anything on their day, they’ve impressed me all season and I expect them to do the same tonight.”
Kear added: “We’ve been training really well all week and with good preparation, application and hard work then who knows what might happen.
“The key is for us to put in a good performance and show that we belong in the Qualifiers.
“We’ve got our first win under our belts now so we’re confident, and I’m really excited about what should be a great game.”
Unlucky duo James Brown and Shaun Squires will miss the match after they both picked up shoulder injuries in their win over Featherstone last weekend.
Elsewhere Kear and Dom Brambani have been nominated for the Championship’s coach and player of the year awards respectively.
Kear is up against Leigh boss Neil Jukes and London Broncos chief Andrew Henderson.
Meanwhile the experienced half-back Brambani has to fight off competition from Leigh captain Mickey Higham and Featherstone’s Misi Taulapapa.