North Wales Crusaders coach Anthony Murray has admitted he has gone into the pre-season games without any real idea of who is likely to make up the starting 17 when the season kicks off against Doncaster on Sunday February 16.
It means every player in his squad can stake a claim for the season opener in the remaining pre-season games against Widnes this Sunday and Whitehaven the following Saturday.
“I am still not sure of my best 17 or 19 players so it’s all still up for grabs really,” said Murray, who saw the Crusaders’ pre-season programme get underway with a trip to Barrow on Sunday.
“It’s always difficult in pre-season, especially when you’re part-time because, due to work and other commitments, you often don’t have your full complement of players at training together at the same time.
“Sunday’s game against Barrow was a great way to start for us. They are going to be the favourites to go up and I wanted a tough test against probably the best team in the league to give us an idea of where we are as a team.
“We took a full complement of players to Barrow and tried to give everyone as much game time as possible, because you can train as much as you like, but nothing compares to playing and getting minutes under your belt.
“We’ll look to do the same in the second game, before heading into the final game, where we’ll hopefully be looking at our strongest 19 ahead of first match of season.”
The squad that visited Barrow on Sunday featured both Joe Ryan and Ryan Millington, who both agreed deals with the club last week.
Ryan made eight appearance for the club last season after joining mid-way through the year from Rochdale, while Millington will link up with the Crusaders for a third time in his career after leaving the Hornets.