Reserves add to Thunder preparations

Newcastle Thunder coach Simon Finnigan (pictured) used Saturday’s opening Reserve Grade fixture to give some of his first-team players more pre-season game time.
With Thunder facing a tough start when they face Keighley at Cougar Park in the Challenge Cup on Sunday, any additional preparation could be crucial for Finnigan’s side.
“We had seven or eight of the first team running out with the reserves,” said Finnigan, who is also overseeing the coaching of the reserves side.
“It gave me the chance to give those who needed it some more game time to get them ready for the Challenge Cup tie.
“Some of the ones who played probably will be in the 17 for Keighley, and some who would maybe have been 50-50 that could put some pressure on my decision making.
“Keighley away is always tough, whatever players they have available. But they have been very shrewd in their recruitment this year and they look like genuine contenders to win the league.
“They have been playing some really good stuff in their friendlies, so it will be a great game to start off.
“It’s good to get like that early on, because if you’re not ready for it you get that kick straight away and you can get ready for what’s ahead.
“It’ll be a good challenge for us and will give us a real idea of where we are after pre-season and ahead of the league campaign.”