DEWSBURY RAMS head coach Glenn Morrison has revealed that finishing outside the top eight in the Championship this year is not an option as his side prepare for their fourth and final warm-up game at Leigh on Sunday, before their league campaign kicks off against Rochdale on February 5.
The Rams have lost all three of their friendlies so far against Batley, Wakefield and The Yowies touring side but the Aussie coach, entering his fifth year in charge at the Tetley’s Stadium, is hopeful for an impressive performance in what could prove their toughest pre-season outing.
Newly-promoted Leigh racked up 50 points against Wigan last weekend and their head coach Neil Jukes has promised a game to everyone who didn’t feature against the 2016 Grand Final winners.
That means the Rams are likely to face a strong Centurions side consisting of the likes of Micky Higham, Dayne Weston and Willie Tonga, while new signing Lachlan Burr, from Bradford, can also expect a run at Leigh Sports Village.
“You want to play strong sides,” said Morrison.
“You learn much more about players and how the squad is performing as a whole when that is the case.
“Leigh have a squad full of internationals so no matter what team Neil (Jukes) puts out I’m sure we’re going to be challenged across the field.
“But the Championship is really strong this year so we need to prepare by playing quality sides.
“We’re desperate to compete and improve on eighth last season, but that won’t be easy when you’re playing teams with the spending power of Hull KR.
“But we turned Bradford over last year who were spending a lot more money so we’ll be fighting hard in every game we play.
“But finishing in the top eight is a must for us.”
Dewsbury are still awaiting the results of a scan on Josh Guzdek’s knee injury and the full-back is expected to miss out on the first couple of games of the new season.
That opens the door for a number players to impress Morrison and stake a claim to fill in at full-back when the season gets underway.
Captain Paul Sykes is a likely option but Morrison is keen for the veteran utility back to play in the halves this year.
“I’m not sure who will be play at full-back yet but I’m pretty sure Josh will be out for a few more weeks,” added the Aussie coach.
“Paul (Sykes) has been filling in there recently, but I do want him to get game time in the halves as well, so someone new is going to fill in at full-back and they'll have a chance to stake a claim.
“We’re a bit thin on the ground at the moment though so we’re not going to be at full strength when we face Leigh on Sunday.”