Five burning questions ahead of this weekend’s Championship action

The Championship returns this week, and with it, the race for the top four and so much more begins to heat up.

Here are five things to watch out for.

1. How will Toulouse cope without Johnathan Ford?

If the French side are going to make the Qualifiers, they’ll have to do it without their influential halfback.

The Australian ruptured his pectoral during international duty with the Cook Islands, and is set to miss the next three months as a result, all but ruling him out for the remainder of the Championship campaign.

Ahead of their match with Sheffield on Saturday, Toulouse have won just one of five games without him in the side, compared to eight wins in nine games when he has played.

But Toulouse simply must improve that record if they are to make the top four. Their first chance to prove they are capable without him is against a Sheffield side going well and in the top half of the league.

2. Will Gareth Moore be the answer to Dewsbury’s survival prayers?

Dewsbury have been crying out for a halfback recently, and now they have one.

In Gareth Moore, the Rams have recruited a renowned player at this level with a good pedigree and evident skills.

But does he have what it takes to help the Rams avoid the drop? His debut will be against one of his former clubs, Featherstone, who are going great at the minute and have a former favourite from the Tetley’s Stadium, Anthony Thackeray, who is having a great season.

It’s a tough ask for Dewsbury, but to stay up they’ll have to start winning eventually.

3. Will Bradford’s influx of loan signings have the desired effect?

It’s not been an easy month for Bradford.

Four consecutive losses have seen them remain on minus two for a while, and the gap between them and the teams outside of the relegation zone has increased to eight points.

But hope has been handed to them with the re-signings of Jordan Lilley, Sam Hallas and Mikolaj Oledzki, who have all signed new loan deals with the club from Leeds.

The Bulls will be hoping that injection of quality will be enough to get them more wins, starting with London, who are currently on a fantastic run of form. They will be the underdogs, but with that much talent, they have a chance on Sunday and moving forward.

4. Can Swinton provide another shock?

They might not be having the greatest of seasons, but Swinton have seemingly developed a liking for shock victories.

Recent wins over Huddersfield and Toulouse have been unexpected to say the least, and they’ll be keen to add to that list when they take on league leaders Hull Kingston Rovers.

It’s a mammoth task, but they defied the odds already this season, now they’ll want to do it again.

5. Have Batley’s top four hopes vanished?

Four consecutive losses have significantly dented Batley’s top four ambitions, almost to the point of no return.

They are eight points adrift of fourth-placed London with 10 games to play, leaving them with an uphill battle.

A drastic turnaround is needed to retain their top-four status, so victory over Oldham this weekend is hugely important.

But Oldham can overtake the Bulldogs with a victory, and that’s what Scott Naylor’s side will be looking out for.