BATLEY BULLDOGS head coach Matt Diskin has praised the introduction of the pre-season Yorkshire Cup tournament.
The competition will see Batley go up against seven other sides in a knockout tournament next month, to provide more meaningful fixtures ahead of the new campaign.
Diskin says that the Yorkshire Cup will provide more useful preparation for his side ahead of the first round of Betfred Championship fixtures, compared to the usual friendlies against Super League sides.
He said: “The majority of the time when you play Super League clubs you play their academies, and it’s great for their academy players but for us it doesn’t really serve the purpose, so to have a competition that gives us a level of competition does prepare you a little bit better for the season.
“We’ll be approaching the competition very competitively to win it, but our main focus is let’s make sure we’re right and everything is running well for the start of the season.”
He added that he was in favour of the concept as a whole, including sharing the gate money across the whole competition between the eight clubs.
“I think the teams in there have shown real solidarity through the events of the last five or six months and looking after each other,” he said, in reference to the battle with the majority of Super League clubs over structure and funding changes.
“The shared gate concept I think is fantastic. We’ll approach it in a really competitive manner, without losing any of the main focus which is preparing for the third of February. We’re excited about it.”
The Yorkshire Cup provides another opportunity for some silverware for the club next season, alongside the new 1895 Cup for lower league teams which will result in a Wembley final.
Diskin says that he is happy to see these divisions receive more time in the spotlight.
“I think anything that gives Championship and Championship One clubs the recognition that they deserve is a good thing,” he said.
“I think the Championship this year is going to be a fantastic competition and I’m hoping it does get some television coverage as well, because Super League is the elite level and where everybody strives to be but it’s also become a bit monotonous and a bit repetitive and everybody plays the same way.
“The Championship has got a lot of variables, some good refereeing and some bad refereeing, good players to not so good, big players, overweight players, it’s got a real mix which makes it some really entertaining rugby and something that I’ve really enjoyed being part of in the last few years.”
In a league in which the three fully professional clubs will begin as the favourites for play-off spots, Diskin says that the immediate goal for the Bulldogs is to be the best of the part-time sides.
He acknowledges that the divisions will be tough to predict though, with a number of clubs experiencing tumultuous
“The circumstances of some of the teams, which you don’t wish on anybody, does open that playing field up a little bit,” he said.
“The ones that we’re chasing at the moment are Halifax. Look where they finished last year, look at the quality they already had and the quality that they’ve brought in, (and) they look at the minute like they’re sitting top of the part-time boys, so that’s our level and that’s what we need to achieve.
“They’ve recruited very, very well, brought in some real quality, and they’ve spent some money on that quality as well.
“Your full-time teams are going to be up there, Toronto shouldn’t lose a game this year if we’re totally honest. You never know, somebody might sneak on them early in the year like they did last year, (but) the full-time teams will be way ahead of the part-time boys.”
Diskin also gave his view on the rule changes that may be introduced into the Championship for next season.
Super League have already agreed to the introduction of golden point extra-time to settle tied matches, as well as a reduction in the number of interchanges from 10 to eight.
Diskin said: “The golden point doesn’t really bother me. I don’t think any of our games over the last two years would have been settled by a golden point anyway so that will have very little effect.
“The interchanges dropping to eight I think is really good, particularly for the squad and how we’ve recruited, we’ve got some really athletic middles.
“For me I think eventually I’d like to see it go down to six as well, because with fatigue and everything like that you’re seeing opportunities for the game to become more exciting, rather than just revolving around the athlete, and 10 subs and 12 subs, which just ruins the spectacle for me.
“Throw a little bit of fatigue in there, show some of the skills that players have, and it makes for some more entertaining rugby.”