NORTH WALES CRUSADERS will kick off the League One Shield season with a big Welsh derby at home to South Wales Scorpions.

The all-Wales clash will have to take place across the border at Chester’s Hare Lane rugby venue as Crusaders’ regular home ground at The Racecourse is out of action.

In the League One Shield, the teams will play each other once (three home and three away) before the first and second-placed teams complete in a play-off final for the Shield trophy.

Coach Anthony Murray is hopeful his revamped squad can launch a bid for silverware.

“We’ll have a good week of rest and then come back refreshed and ready to go for the second half of the season,” said the Crusaders head coach.

“We’re in a healthy position moving into the second tier. Our points carry on and there is now the prize of the League One Shield to play for, but first things first there’s an end of season final for us to aim for.

“It’s all to play for and that’s a good part of the move to split the league. It can be seen as being frustrating on one hand because we’ve played very good rugby against most of the sides in the top tier. But we’re where we are and the top eight are in on their merit.”

Murray will have his players back in for training this week and is determined to ensure they seize the opportunity to try and lift a trophy by the end of the current season.

It would be a terrific achievement were Crusaders to reach the Shield final, given the ‘significant pay cuts’ imposed on the first-team in pre-season, which led to the departures of senior players including Jamie Dallimore, Christiaan Roets and Joe Burke.

“I’ll be speaking to the players and making them aware that there’s a chance to lift a piece of silverware at the end of the season.

“We must always strive to be the best we can so the aim is to win it. If we could reach the final and win a trophy, that will be classed as a major success, especially given the circumstances we came into the season in.

“The players have done fantastically well and we can’t wait to get going again.”