North Wales Crusaders head coach Anthony Murray is looking for a positive start from his side in their League 1 opener at London Skolars on Saturday.
After two pre-season outings at Hunslet and Rochdale Hornets, Crusaders will get their first taste of competitive action since March 2020 at London in the opening League 1 fixture of the season.
And Murray believes how his side deal with the Skolars from the first minute will be key.
“It’s a difficult place to go and they play their pitch really well,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we have to make sure we’re at our best and start the game well.
“The last thing you want to be doing is giving them opportunities to get near your tryline early on.
“The league campaign getting underway is what we’ve all been looking forward to and we’re all really excited to get back to what we do.
“It’s massively important we start the season well and we’ve set our own goals in-house for the first four games.
“If we can achieve those goals, we hope it’ll set us on our way for the rest of the season to come.”
Despite defeat in both friendlies, the Crusaders boss was encouraged by his side’s displays against two of the division’s favourites for promotion.
Murray said: “I hope we can carry on as we’ve performed during pre-season.
“I can only pick 17 players on the day, but I’d like to think I’ve now got a strong squad of 26 or so players.
“Each player will be wanting to keep their shirt for the following week as, with it no doubt going to be a tough season, there’ll be opportunities to rotate the squad and bring others in.
“Having a healthy squad is always a good headache for any coach to have.”