DEWSBURY RAMS kick off the 2020 Championship campaign tonight (Friday) against Leigh Centurions, and coach Lee Greenwood has warned his squad that it will be a step up from what they have faced in pre-season.
Almost a fortnight has passed since their final friendly of a schedule which saw them draw on Boxing Day with Batley, lose in the final minute at Keighley and then beat Championship rivals Bradford.
But tonight’s curtain-raiser at the Tetley’s Stadium (kick-off 7.30pm) represents a step up from those games, against a club who have spent big and aspire to earn a place back in Super League at the end of the season.
Leigh have brought in no fewer than 15 new players in the winter, with established top-flight names including Junior Sa’u, Jarrod Sammut and Danny Addy joining John Duffy’s roster, and the strength of the squads in the Championship’s opening game reflects the disparity between budgets in the division.
“They’ve spent heavily to make a proper fist of it this year,” said Greenwood. “They said that once Toronto were out of the way they’d go for it, so they’ll be expecting to come and get off to a really good start on Friday. On paper it shouldn’t be a contest but that’s up to us to make it one.”
Dewsbury have made 13 new additions themselves and, while brought together on a very different budget, Greenwood believes that the attitude of the group over pre-season means that they are capable of giving some of the top teams a game – but warns that the challenge this week is greater than what they have come up against so far.
He said: “It’s tough because they need to step up from what they’ve given us in pre-season. Leigh are a level above what we’ve played in the last three games so we’re going to need to step up again.
“For lads who are playing their first proper Championship rugby or haven’t been regulars before, it’s a big ask.
“We’re in a good spot. We know what type of group we’ve got and what type of attitude we’ve got from over pre-season, so I think if you get a group of lads together and they give absolutely everything, then surprise results happen.
“If they give absolutely everything and you can visibly see that, I certainly won’t be questioning them.”
The Rams have almost a full squad to choose from, with any lingering knocks from the side’s friendly fixtures all worn off.
Only Jason Walton remains out but there is positive news on that front too, with his operation earlier this week going well, putting the centre around six weeks away from being available to make his debut for the club.