CARL FORSTER says he has a selection headache once the new campaign gets underway at the end of the month.

North Wales Crusaders will open their new season at Colwyn Bay’s Stadiwm CSM on January 28 when they host Championship side Swinton Lions in the 1895 Cup.

Crusaders lost out 32-18 at Championship club Barrow in their sole pre-season run out and head coach Forster was pleased with aspects of his side’s display.

He told the club’s X site: “So, you know, you learn that they can take on instructions and apply it pretty much straight away and I thought it was a good dig out overall.

“I thought we scored some nice tries.

“I thought our left edge in attack looked quite well.

“We were lively out the back.

“I just thought no-one did themselves any wrong and I thought it gives me a good selection headache come the 1895 Cup.”

Crusaders scored first and last during their match-up with Barrow.

There were big positives as the tries came from Matt Unsworth, Toby Hughes and Pat Ah Van, while vice-captain Owain Abel kicked three conversions.

Reflecting on the match, Forster added: “I thought Matty Unsworth on the edge, he looked real dangerous.

“Every time we got the ball, he just kind of looked like he had space.

“Chris Barrett, he leads by example, leads from the front. He came on and did real well.”

Barrett is the new skipper for this season and when he was appointed to the role, Forster told the club’s website: “Chris was the standout and obvious choice for me as captain.

“He leads by example on the field and also off it.

“When he speaks everyone stops and listens, he knows what the club is about and what direction we want to go in. For me, he is what you want in a captain.”

Back to the Barrow friendly and Forster added: “Adam Carr started the game really well and I’m probably doing a few players a disservice there, but just off the top of my mind those type of players stick out.

“But we’ve got two weeks’ worth of training yet.”

Although the trip to Barrow was Crusaders’ only pre-season friendly, Forster says his side will be ready to go when competitive action gets underway.

“If we had another friendly, it would probably be ideal, but we don’t,” he added.

“So, we’ll go with what we’ve got and we’ll go from here.”

A pair of tasty home clashes will begin the competitive 2024 season for the North Wales Crusaders later this month.

The opening fixtures of the new-look AB Sundecks 1895 Cup will see Forster’s League One side looking forward to home matches versus Championship opposition.

The action gets underway at Colwyn Bay’s Stadiwm CSM on January 28 when Swinton Lions are the visitors.

Then, on February 18, Widnes Vikings will be Crusaders’ opponents.

A long away day will open the League One season when Crusaders go to Cornwall on March 24.