NORTH WALES CRUSADERS coach Anthony Murray insists there will be no shortage of takers for the captaincy at the club.

The role was vacated by Kenny Baker last summer after the influential loose forward joined Widnes Vikings and the Cru are yet to name his successor.

Murray, whose side face Widnes in a pre-season clash at Halton Stadium on Sunday, believes there is a strong list of contenders at his disposal.

“We haven’t nailed down the captaincy yet, but we feel like there’s still a lot of senior players who are good candidates,” he said.

“We’ve got the likes of Rob Massam, below, Earl Hurst, Warren Thompson, Brad Brennan, Karl Ashall and Chris Barratt - who was captain at Coventry Bears.

“Collectively there’s a lot of experience and knowledge of the game there and we’ll be naming the captain, vice-captain and club captain roles nearer to the start of the season.”

Sunday’s clash is the Cru’s second warm-up match of the year and follows last weekend’s 24-16 defeat at League One promotion favourites Barrow Raiders.

The new-look visitors fielded nine of their off-season signings in Cumbria and turned in a creditable display against strong opposition.

Discussing his side’s first pre-season test, Murray said: “It was good. You can train as much as you want, but you only get to see what they’re 100 per cent capable of when you see them play in the flesh.

“I thought there were some really good performances despite us not playing a recognised hooker.

“We were rotating a lot in that position and I thought that showed what the players are prepared to do for the team in terms of mucking in and dropping in at nine.”

Championship side Widnes pose another stern test this weekend, with Tim Sheen’s side winning both of their pre-season openers.

Baker was one of six new recruits involved in a 32-10 win against Castleford last Sunday, the result following a comfortable victory over Rochdale a week earlier.

Murray believes matches against high-calibre sides will serve his players well in the season ahead.

He said: “We’ve trained really hard this year and we’ve upped the conditioning a little bit.

“There’s no point in playing teams where you’re likely to run away with it. I wanted some tough challenges and the players to be put into some tough places in these games because that’s what League One’s going to be like this year. It’s going to be even tougher than last year and I want these players to be ready for the challenge that’s ahead of them.

“Widnes will be looking for promotion to the Super League this year, I’m sure. Tim Sheen is one of the best coaches around and we know how much quality they’ll be able to throw at us on Sunday.

“We want to get better in some areas - our kick and drive game can be better, we want to concede fewer penalties, and I think we can improve in how we end our sets.

“Again for us it’s all about our performance and giving a good account of ourselves.”

Brad Billsborough (pictured in the line-up, far right) was the Cru’s representative at the season launch in Huddersfield earlier this week.