Bradford coach John Kear has insisted he will not simply hand out first-team shirts at the Bulls for the sake of it no matter who their opposition in 2018, as they prepare to enter the Challenge Cup this weekend.
Kear has hinted at few changes for the home clash against West Wales Raiders on Sunday, a game the Bulls are expected to navigate to progress to the fourth round.
Yet after last week’s win at York, Kear has warned TotalRL they won’t make changes just because of their position as heavy favourites.
He said: “It’s always been one of my philosophies that you don’t give first-team jerseys away for the sake of it unless they’re deserved – and that applies to this weekend, too.
“If you play for Bradford Bulls this year, then you’re going to have to earn it. There may well be a couple of changes, yes, but there aren’t going to be wholesale changes for the sake of it.”
As a cup-winning coach Kear also inevitably admits that despite promotion being Bradford’s main goal this year, the prospect of a cup run still excites him.
“Everyone knows how I feel about the cup – I absolutely love it!” he said.
“These aren’t the games you put the cue on the rack for – they’re the games you get excited about. It’s a welcome distraction and my ideal scenario is to have a good cup run which sees us play Batley and Wakefield!”
Kear also admits it’s difficult to gauge what sort of a test the Raiders will provide this weekend, given how their first competitive game as a club last weekend, against Newcastle, was called off.
“I know Connor Farrer, Steve Parry and Morgan Evans having coached them with Wales, so they won’t be a surprise, but yes, the club are a bit of an unknown quantity,” he said.
“We’ve done everything we can to prepare for them but their game getting called off last week makes it a bit of a step into the unknown. It’s up to us to handle it, though.”
Kear will have half-back Dane Chisholm available for the first time, and he will appear from the bench. New signing George Flanagan is also in the 19-man squad.