BATLEY BULLDOGS coach John Kear says that his players must perform in their final pre-season match with Keighley Cougars on Sunday or risk being dropped for round one.
The Mount Pleasant coach issued the warning to his players ahead of the trial game, which is their last match before the Championship campaign commences.
The Bulldogs are likely to name a squad of around 25 players for the match-up, with all players vying for a place in the side to face Leigh on February 16.
Kear admits that the only way he can select his squad is by giving every player a fair chance in the final trial game.
He said: “We have a couple of doubts but I expect everyone to be fit and well for the game.
“This final trial offers the players the final opportunity to put their hands up to be selected for round one.
“I have always said that coaches don’t select teams, they just announce them.
“The only way to get in the squad is to perform.”
The Bulldogs have endured a mixed pre-season campaign with a narrow win over Dewsbury Rams followed by losses to Halifax and St Helens.
However, Kear insists that the Keighley game could be the ideal finish to a varied pre-season.
“The Cougars game is probably the ideal game to have before the Championship starts,” he added.
“We are aware of who Keighley are and know they have a number of good and experienced players, but we aren’t looking at the opposition.
“We are being a bit selfish and simply looking at our own performance and not theirs.
“Dewsbury was a good trial, and Halifax and Saints provided a tough challenge.
“This pre-season has been frustrating, but mainly due to the weather and the pitch becoming a quagmire.
“The players have to front up on Sunday. If I get 10 good performances then I have a negative headache selection, but if I get 25 good performances then it presents me with a positive one.”
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will now be running a new man-of-the-match award system for the new season.
In previous campaigns the club have only given an award at home games, with the match sponsor selecting the games best player.
However, with sponsor Vinny Kerr at Kerr Interiors at the forefront, a first, second and third man-of-the-match will now be selected at home games – by the match sponsor – and away games by directors and backroom staff.
The first man-of-the-match will be given three points, second place will be given two points and third place one point towards a season-long running total, with the overall winner receiving a Kerr Interiors award at the end of the season.
After each game the results will be announced on Batley’s website for those not present in the Ron Earnshaw Lounge after the game when the presentation is made.