TEN weeks and counting.

That’s how long it will be before North Wales Crusaders kick off the League 1 season with a trip to London Skolars on Saturday May 8.

The first game of a campaign that will run until mid-September and Andy Moulsdale, chief executive of the Wrexham-based Crusaders, is confident of a good season.

“We always seem to kick off in London,” said Moulsdale. “We’ve been there before on the first day and the fact that London play on a Saturday means we’ll be kicking off the League 1 campaign - and hopefully with a good result.”

Moulsdale believes the release of the fixtures is another optimistic sign for a return to action.

“We’re back in training although it’s only one session a week and it’s all individual sessions at the moment,” added Moulsdale (pictured below).

“It’s not the same because of the restrictions but we plan to step things up next month. But again we’re waiting on what happens with any new guidelines that are introduced.

“So the fact that the fixtures are out is good. We should have been gearing up to start in a couple of weeks but it was a sensible decision by the league to put our start date back to May.

“We’re looking forward to that first match too. We’ve recruited well and have our strongest squad for more than six years.

“We’ve got good young hungry players signed on for us

“Gav Rodden’s with us again and he scored six tries after joining the team while it’s great to have Jono Smith back.

“Hopes are high, I’ve got to say, and we’d like to think we can target a play-off place this season. But all clubs will think the same - and a lot of the clubs have recruited well too.

“I think Barrow will be one of the favourites as they’ve brought in a lot of ex-Super League players while Keighley will be strong too.”

Barrow Raiders head coach Paul Crarey says that having a big squad will be crucial this season as the tight schedule may see an increase in player injuries.

Crarey told the club’s Twitter: “We had five weeks training before Christmas which was great, but that’s long gone now. It’s February now and we’re back in and we have got to be very careful in what we do, but these lads are great, Sean (physio) and Paddy (strength and conditioning coach) are telling us what we need to do more of.

“We will pick up a lot of injuries this year when we play, so it’s important that we have a great and big squad.

“It’s just great to be back on the training ground again, [it gives] some normality in everyone’s lives really.”


MAY: 8 London Skolars A; 16 HUNSLET H; 23 WORKINGTON H; 30 Barrow A.

JUNE: 6 COVENTRY H; 13 DONCASTER H; 19 West Wales A; 27 Rochdale A.

JULY: 4 KEIGHLEY H; 11 Hunslet A; 25 Doncaster A.

AUGUST: 1 WEST WALES H; 8 Coventry A; 15 BARROW H; 22 Workington A; 29 ROCHDALE H.