Two West Cumbrian clubs are preparing for amateur rugby league’s big day – the National Conference League Finals at Featherstone on Saturday.
Wath Brow Hornets contest the main event against Thatto Heath, the Grand Final at 2pm, while Kells will start the day at 11.45am in the Shield final against West Hull.
The third final, for the NCL Cup starts at 4.25pm and is between East Leeds and Clock Face Miners.
Wath Brow coach Ian Rooney says of opponents Thatto Heath: “I know several of their lads very well, having coached them at international level. We’re two evenly matched teams and it should be a closely-contested game.”
Rooney is clearly disregarding suggestions that the Crusaders will be without several players because of a stag weekend, and will be preparing his Hornets squad to take on full-strength opposition.
The coach added: “It’s been a very testing season for all clubs but there are more important things around than rugby league. Our club is a big focal point for the community and has played a big role in providing support to the elderly and the vulnerable during the lockdowns.”
Kells coach Steve Kirkbride is preparing to lead his side into a final for the first time, having taken over the reins ahead of the pandemic.
He said: “West Hull are obviously favourites. They’ve been one of the top three or four clubs in the Conference for many years and the season before this one they were champions.
“We are going into the game with nothing to lose and we will give it our best shot. We’ve got no ex-pros in our ranks and basically we are made up of Under-18s and Under-17s with a few older heads.”