Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell wants his team to make an impression in their first pre-season outing against Halifax on Boxing Day.
Powell has named a strong squad for the 12 noon kick-off at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, including seven of the close season signings who are set to make their Castleford debuts.
New half-back combination Luke Dorn and Marc Sneyd get the first chance to show what they can do with last week’s shock signing from Featherstone, Liam Finn, on the bench, while centre Michael Channing – signed on a permanent deal after impressing on loan at the end of last season – is also picked.
In the pack, Andy Lynch makes his eagerly awaited second Cas debut and fellow forward Scott Wheeldon is selected to make his first Tigers appearance after his move from London.
The 20-man squad includes another debutant in second rower or centre Frankie Mariano, who is on the bench.
There is also has room for rookie loose forward or stand-off Jordan Howden and another teenager Ben Reynolds, who is looking to build on promising displays at the end of last season.
“There’s a mixture in there which you always expect at this time of year, but it’s a strong team,” said head coach Powell.
“We want to make an impression in our first game even though it’s in the middle of our pre-season preparation.
“We want to make sure our attitude’s good and we go out there and show what we are going to be about this year.
“It’s always a difficult game because you are right in and around Christmas and you are in the middle of your pre-season preparations, but it can be good for the players to get a run out.
“You are not as sharp as you want to be, but for me it’s about the attitude and the intensity levels that we have been talking about.
“We’ve been on a tough camp and hopefully we’ve picked up a fair bit from that.
“I don’t expect us to be picture perfect in terms of our work with the ball, but we want to get our decision making right and build a game for ourselves, look to apply some pressure to the opposition – some of the key things that we are wanting to have in our game this year.”
Powell is expecting a good game for fans who enjoy the tradition of a Boxing Day game.
He added: “It’s great to get people watching rugby again and Boxing Day is a traditional fixture day. I know people like to get their fix of rugby league when they’ve had a fair bit of time off and it’s a good opportunity for them to see a number of new players within the squad so from that point of view I think the fans will be pretty excited.
“I think it’s a good chance for the new players to get in amongst their new team-mates and start to build new relationships with some combinations.
“It’s what pre-season is all about, getting yourself to a point that when you do kick-off the season you are in a good place and the team feels good about itself and can apply the things that have been practiced consistently throughout the pre-season period.”
Tigers squad: Tansey; Owen, Channing, Dixon, Clare; Sneyd, Dorn; Lynch, Clark, Huby, Gilmour, Holmes, Wheeldon. Substitutes: Fleming, Martin, Howden, Reynolds, Mariano, Orr, Finn.