Ex-Super League star Luke Gale identifies the Championship front-runners as he prepares for baptism of fire from Featherstone Rovers fans

THERE will be some incredible talent in the Championship in 2023.

The likes of Luke Gale, Ben Crooks, Elijah Taylor, Jack Walker, Bodene Thompson and Kyle Amor will all be plying their trade in the second tier after respective moves from Super League sides.

That in itself makes the Championship a really competitive competition in 2023 after previous winners Leigh Leopards dominated the second tier.

However, in terms of going forward, new Keighley Cougars signing Luke Gale has identified one Championship rival as the ‘frontrunners’ for the competition.

“Keighley had a really good season last year, they went unbeaten in League One, though this is a lot harder competition,” Gale told League Express.

“That’s the reason why I signed; they are a forward thinking side with a great coach. The aim is to get in that top six and compete against the best teams.

“There is no better team than Featherstone a week on Monday! It’s a baptism of fire and I can’t wait to get stuck into it.

“Toulouse don’t seem to have a big squad so I wouldn’t really know about Toulouse, but Featherstone will be the frontrunners and they are the marker. We will find out on Monday where we stand, but it’s really exciting.”

In terms of coming up against Featherstone in the Championship fixture next Monday, Gale is prepared to be given plenty of stick by the Rovers fans after his spell with local rivals Castleford Tigers

“I played there a few times in my career. I can remember playing on New Years for Leeds when I was 18 or 19 and I’ve been there a couple of times since.

“Obviously being an ex-Castleford player means I will get a fair bit of stick but I quite enjoy that.”

Under head coach Rhys Lovegrove, Keighley dominated League One in 2022, winning all of their league games in an invincible season.