18th December 2018, 15:42
Countdown to 2019 season begins for both Crusaders and Raiders
As the new season nears for our professional clubs North Wales Crusaders and West Wales Raiders, we take a look at who they'll both be facing in pre-season.
League 1 is going to have a very different feel to it in 2019. With no clubs relegated from the Championship, York City Knights and Bradford Bulls both promoted and Hemel Stags leaving the competition, it will be an 11-team league next season.
Crusaders have retained the majority of their squad from last season and have had a full pre-season under Anthony Murray, who returned to the club for a second spell a couple of months into the 2018 campaign.
The Wrexham outfit have announced three pre-season matches as they aim to build on their 10th-place finish last time around.
Murray's side will begin with a trip to Championship outfit Swinton Lions at 3pm on Sunday, January 20. It will have a Welsh feel to it as international Rob Massam has returned to Crusaders and Rhodri Lloyd, Gavin Bennion and Mike Butt all ply their trade at the Lions.
North Wales will then face partner club Widnes Vikings at the Select Security Stadium at 3pm on Sunday, January 27 in their second outing.
To round-up their preparations for 2019, Crusaders will host Coventry Bears at Queensway Stadium at 1.30pm on Saturday, February 2.
🏉NEWS: #NWCrusaders will travel to face @Swinton_Lions before welcoming @CoventryBearsRL to Wrexham as part of our pre-season schedule.— Nth Wales Crusaders (@NWCrusadersRL) December 6, 2018
Read Here 👉 https://t.co/4ha3Vzdtwr#OurTime #rugbyleague pic.twitter.com/JmiitWLvnf
West Wales, meanwhile, have been hard at work under new head coach Kim Williams, the Queenland Cup winner who has moved over to the UK from Australia.
Williams' recruitment ahead of the new campaign has been solid. As well as bringing a number of Australians with him, he has also signed the likes of Lewis Reece and Liam Rice-Wilson, who impressed Wales boss John Kear during his call-up for the recent European Championship and 2021 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers.
The Raiders have announced one pre-season fixture to date as they host Wigan Warriors, who they are currently in a partnership with. The Super League champions will send their U19s to Stebonheath Park on Saturday, February 2.
Article by Ryan Gould
Image by Richard Long