Sunday 3rd February 2013  Mount Pleasant  Kick Off: 14:00:00

Batley Bulldogs Squad

Keighley Cougars Squad

Match Preview

Bulldogs boss hails March's pedigree

Batley Bulldogs coach John Kear believes Paul March's influence at Keighley Cougars will guarantee a fierce encounter on Sunday.

Kear, who coached March at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, said: "I expect them to be very competitive because I know what Marchy is like.

"He would compete with his own shadow, and I'm certain that will be reflected in how they play.

"If you're going to get anything out of Keighley this year then you'll have to earn it."

Danny Maun and Gareth Moore are unavailable for the Bulldogs, who are otherwise at full strength for their first league fixture of 2013.

Kear added: "Keeping people fresh will be a big challenge this year, but we're happy to embrace that and the players certainly will be."

New Cougars coach Paul March is already battling against a number of injury worries ahead of the first game of the season.

Brendan Rawlins (broken finger) and Ben Stead (broken cheekbone) are both four weeks away from a return, Matt Bailey (broken leg) is out for two months and Jamaine Wray (back) is also missing this week.

However, March is determined his side will compete. He said: "Defensively we'll be similar to last year, but we're going to be more expansive with the ball in hand.

"We came sixth last year, and there's more pressure on us this time after the season we had last year, but we're ready for that."