CAPTAIN Chris Barratt is looking for the North Wales Crusaders to produce another play-off push this year.

Despite a tough campaign in 2023, Crusaders ended the year on a high to battle their way through to the League One play-offs grand final.

Looking towards the top end of the standings is once more the aim for Barratt and he told the club’s website: “We’re in a better spot than where we were last season, we’ve had a good long pre-season and we’re all just itching to get playing now.

“I want to put in some more good performances and lead the team as best as I can throughout the year.

“We want to end up in the play-offs again and have another good go at getting promoted and I’m looking forward to it.”

Barratt was amongst the try scorers as Crusaders opened their league season last week with a comfortable 40-16 success away to Cornwall.

Player-coach Carl Forster and Toby Hughes bagged two tries apiece as Crusaders enjoyed a winning start.

Next up is this Sunday’s home meeting with Midlands Hurricanes at Colwyn Bay’s Stadiwm CSM.

Barratt has praised the fans for their support and is excited to have their backing as the league season continues.

“It’s always really good when we get loads of people there, we know we always get a good following at our ground and the more the better, said Barratt.

“We always hear them louder than any other fanbase we play, so we appreciate the support.”

Fixtures in the 1895 Cup and Challenge Cup versus Championship sides Swinton Lions, Bradford Bulls and Widnes Vikings were treated as pre-season contests for Crusaders and during that time, it was an opportunity for the coaches to learn about the class of 2024.

Barratt believes that the team competed well against higher level sides, but certain tough periods cost them.

He said: “I don’t think it was too bad, we just didn’t compete for long enough throughout the 80 minutes.

“We managed to stay in the games but we just had little spells of 20 minutes where we dropped off and got punished for it.

“I think it will do us good going forward playing those teams because I don’t think we’ll play teams as tough as them this year.

“Certainly the physicality and the speed of those games should help us for the season ahead.”

Hull KR have been given the chance to avenge last year’s Wembley heartache after being drawn against holders Leigh in the last eight of the Challenge Cup later this month.

The repeat of last year’s epic final, which Leigh won 17-16 after a golden-point drop-goal from Lachlan Lam, will take place at Craven Park, home of the in-form Robins, on the weekend of April 13 and 14.

World champions Wigan travel to Castleford, St Helens take on top-flight rivals Warrington while Huddersfield face the difficult task of a trip to Catalans Dragons.

In tonight’s Super League clash Leeds go to Castleford.