Oxford v Newcastle Thunder (3.00)
Oxford coach Tim Rumford said: “We’re really excited about the challenge in front of us on Saturday. We’re almost like a new team and it’s my first experience of the guys. It’s going to be a big challenge playing against an established side with a plethora of international players.
“Looking at their squad they could be challenging to win League 1 this year and will be looking to win this competition.
“We’re looking to benchmark ourselves against them. There’s no pressure on us, we’re a new side with a lot of rookies and the opportunity to play a team like Newcastle is massive.”
Stanley Gene coach of the re-branded Newcastle Thunder says his club are in a much better position than last year: “Pre-season’s been brilliant for us compared to last year, being with the Newcastle Falcons has been first class. Three quarters of the players are now living up in Newcastle, which wasn’t the case last year.
“The players are looking fit and raring to go. One of our goals is to get to the final of this cup. We’re all focused on it and we’re going down there to do a job.”
West Hull v North Wales Crusaders (2.30)
This is a massive game for community club West Hull and their coach Mark Hewitt knows his players will be up against it. “North Wales are a quality side but we’re a good amateur side and we’ll go out and give it the best we can,” he said. “It’s nice to be at home and hopefully we can get a crowd down to cheer us on.
“We just want the guys to enjoy themselves and do themselves justice, we’ve put no expectations on them. Everybody expects us to get beat and get beat well but we’re going to give it all we’ve got.”
Crusaders coach Anthony Murray is looking forward to his side’s first competitive game of the new season: “We’ve had a good pre-season, all the preparations have gone as expected,” he said. “We had a full weekend away at the Welsh camp at Deeside in preparation for the match on Saturday.
“Obviously we’ll be giving West Hull the full respect that they deserve. They were champions last year and we’re anticipating a really tough fixture. We are approaching it as if they were a professional side.”