BATLEY BULLDOGS head coach John Kear acknowledges that the Boxing Day clash with Dewsbury is just another step towards preparing his team for the start of the 2016 Championship campaign.
The Bulldogs under-achieved last season and Kear knows improvements have to be made in order to challenge Dewsbury for a place in the Championship Shield play-offs.
“We must improve on last season and we can use this Boxing Day clash as a stepping stone for greater things next year,” said Kear.
“But having said that I’m well aware about the history of this fixture and how much it means to the fans.
“Me and the players will do our best to give the fans something extra to celebrate over Christmas.
“We’re confident we can win the game, but for me, what I’m most looking forward to, is seeing some of our new signings in action and how they gel on the pitch with the guys from last season.”
Some of the Bulldogs’ latest additions include former Rams players Dom Brambani and Patch Walker, who both arrived at Mount Pleasant from Sheffield Eagles in the off-season.
“I have high hopes for my squad, they have been impressing me in training and they’ve been working hard,” said Kear.
“The new guys seem to have settled in well and I’m sure they will improve the teams performances on the field.
“Everyone is eager to get out there and play some rugby again.”
Two players who definitely won’t feature on Boxing Day are Sean Hesketh, who is recovering from knee surgery and Chris Ulugia, who is nursing a shoulder injury with family back in New Zealand.
“It’s frustrating I have a couple of players out but I’ll still be able to see a large proportion of my squad in action,” added Kear.
“Every player will get a stint in at least two of our three pre-season games.”