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Championship

14 Jan 2022

Preview: Bumper pre-season weekend

Preview: Bumper pre-season weekend

Featherstone Rovers v Leeds Rhinos is one of a huge nine pre-season friendly fixtures this weekend, with the careers of Michael Knowles, Danny Craven and Danny Brough also celebrated with Testimomial Matches.

Following on from their second Million Pound Game defeat in two years last season, Rovers have made headlines this off-season with the appointment of Super League's most successful coach, Brian McDermott, as their new Head Coach, as well as high-profile arrivals such as Jesse Sene-Lefao from Castleford and blockbusting 2016 Dally M Centre of the Year Joey Leilua following his release from Wests Tigers last year.

And Leeds have named a near full-strength squad for the clash as their preparations for the new campaign continue. Rhinos Head Coach Richard Agar confirmed that Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin will both start against the Championship side in a starting line-up that will feature entirely players with Super League experience. Agar has also included a number of younger members of the squad who will feature in the second half.

Elsewhere, Michael Knowles' Testimonial year begins as Dewsbury Rams host Huddersfield Giants, 1pm kick off, at the Tetley's Stadium on Saturday.

That's the first of a total of four Testimonial Matches this weekend as Knowles, 34, celebrates a professional career which began with a Super League debut for Castleford Tigers back in 2006.

Saturday's other fixture is a tie between Salford Red Devils and Swinton Lions, 1pm kick off, at the AJ Bell Stadium.

On Sunday, Halifax Panthers are at home to Wakefield Trinity for Scott Grix's Testimonial Match - Grix himself retired at the end of last season but is scheduled to make a cameo appearance for the occasion.

Widnes Vikings' Danny Craven begins his Testimonial year with his side facing Batley Bulldogs on home turf, also on Sunday, 3pm kick off.

While he has enjoyed spells on loan elsewhere, Craven, 30, has been part of the Vikings set up for his entire professional career having made his debut for the club in 2010.

Danny Brough will also be honoured this Sunday as Bradford Bulls tackle Hull FC in a clash of two of his former clubs, a 3pm kick off at Odsal Stadium.

Brough finished his career amongst the top five point-scorers in Rugby League history and accepted medical advice to retire at the end of the 2021 season.

The former Scotland international scrum half, who turns 39 tomorrow, won the Challenge Cup in 2005 with Hull FC and played out his final two years as a professional with the Bulls.

Also on Sunday, preparations for a huge 2022 season continue as the Championship's York City Knights host Super League outfit Castleford Tigers in a 3pm kick off at the LNER Community Stadium.

And there's a local derby between Workington Town and Whitehaven at 2pm.

Finally, Barrow Raiders tackle Newcastle Thunder at Craven Park in an all-Championship clash, also a 3pm kick off

This weekend's pre-season fixtures:

Saturday:

  • Dewsbury Rams v Huddersfield Giants - 1pm - Tetley's Stadium [Michael Knowles' Testimonial Match]
  • Salford Red Devils v Swinton Lions - 2pm - AJ Bell Stadium

Sunday

  • Halifax Panthers v Wakefield Trinity - 3pm - The Shay [Scott Grix's Testimonial Match]
  • York City Knights v Castleford Tigers - 3pm - LNER Community Stadium
  • Barrow Raiders v Newcastle Thunder - 3pm - Craven Park
  • Widnes Vikings v Batley Bulldogs - 3pm - DCBL Stadium [Danny Craven's Testimonial Match]
  • Bradford Bulls v Hull FC - 3pm - Odsal Stadium [Danny Brough's Testimonial Match]