Travelling to Barrow Raiders on Sunday is an ideal challenge to begin pre-season with, according to North Wales Crusaders head coach Anthony Murray.
Barrow earned promotion to the Championship last season and have begun preparations for life in the second tier well, picking up wins over Workington Town and Newcastle Thunder during pre-season to date.
With Crusaders taking on amateur club Leigh Miners Rangers in the second round of the Challenge Cup on January 29, this is an ideal opportunity for Murray to take a closer look at his squad ahead of 2022.
He said: “It’s come around really quickly.
“We’ve been in since the end of November so the lads have been training really hard and we’ve had good numbers in training all the time.
“We’ve brought in quite a few new faces and some younger ones who’ve not had experience of playing at this level before, along with lads from the community game.
“It’ll be interesting to see how they do and what a game to start with as I don’t think Barrow have lost a fixture yet and they’ve beaten sides like Workington and Newcastle.
“It’ll be a really tough tie and good preparation for us as, when we play over at Leigh Miners, they’ll be up for the challenge.
“They’ll all be wanting the underdog to get the win so it’s another challenge we face and one we’re looking forward to.”
2021 was one of the most successful seasons in the club’s history, with Crusaders finishing third in a highly-competitive League 1 and making the play-offs for the first time since 2015.
Murray added: “I never make any crazy predictions, saying we’re going to do this or that, as it’s about us maintaining what we’re doing on the field, keep improving week in, week out and always making sure we’re competitive.
“That’ll hopefully hold us in good stead and keep us at the right end of the table, but it’s going to be tough and we’re going to have to work even harder than we did last year.
“We’ve got to have confidence in the team, have a good go and see what happens.”
Season tickets are on sale for 2022, with a number of different packages available to choose