THIS is what Scott Naylor said as the countdown began to the first league game of a crucial season against Sheffield Eagles at Bower Fold tomorrow (3pm kick off):
“The Championship is relentless. And last season was a massive learning curve for us. Our Challenge Cup win at Hull KR was a turning point for us.
“We put in a huge effort physically and mentally. By winning, we didn’t have any time off (Roughyeds played Warrington Wolves in the next round) and around the same time we had to play Bradford Bulls on a Wednesday night in a crowded programme.
“We ended up with enough points to stay up, but we learned a lot from what happened after the win at Hull KR.
“This season, with the exception of Toulouse, we know what the other teams are like and what their grounds are like. Last year, it was like an adventure, unknown territory for a lot of the players and some of the staff. There were also times when we fielded the only 17 fit players we had.
“THIS YEAR WE HAVE A BETTER QUALITY OF SQUAD AND I’D LIKE TO SPEND SOME MORE.
“We’ve already spent extra money on the medical and strength and conditioning departments, hoping to reduce injuries and to get players back on the field as quickly as possible.
“We’ve also got our two loan lads from Castleford Tigers, Keiran Gill and Tuoyo Egodo, plus dual-registration fellows from Huddersfield Giants, where head coach Rick Stone is a big believer in that system.
“Overall, we should be a lot stronger than last year.
“As far as dual-reg is concerned, it’s all about managing and balancing the numbers you have with those available to you on dual-reg and identifying the areas in which you want to use dual-reg boys.
“I was Academy coach at Salford for a while and I’m a big believer in academy rugby, but I fully understand what dual-reg is all about and in the last two or three years it has worked very well for us.
“Would we have stayed up if we hadn’t used dual-reg ? I don’t know.
“As for our first game this time against Sheffield, the team that turns out won’t look anything like the teams we have fielded in the friendlies.”
The kick-off time at Bower Field tomorrow (Sunday) is 3pm. It goes without saying that the boys are hoping for a huge welcome from the fans when they leave the tunnel at the start of our 20th anniversary season and our second in the Championship.