DEWSBURY Rams will be hoping to have shaken off a cold snap before the Boxing Day Challenge game against Batley Bulldogs at Tetley’s Stadium (12.30pm).
The Rams have had to cut down on the carol singing as the cold virus has swept through the dressing room and disrupted preparations.
Coach Warren Jowitt snuffled: “I’ve started with it, Matt Walker has got it and Adam Hayes has had it really bad. It has gone round the dressing room like wildfire, various players have been off and we have had to train with the numbers available.
“But they are young lads and should be strong enough and healthy enough to shake it off. I shall have a better idea of where we stand on Saturday morning.
“Obviously you can’t pick anyone who is still under the weather, that wouldn’t be fair. but we shall be playing the majority of the new signings.
“I have 15 of them, this is a new team, and hopefully they’ll be all available on Monday. We plan to use 22 on the day.
The vastly experienced Nick Fozzard is very keen to be involved in what is his seventh rugby league derby, having appeared in such as Leeds-Bradford, St Helens-Wigan and the Humberside encounter.
Dewsbury fans will be very keen to see the hard running prop in action and he is likely to come up against two front row men who were at the Rams last season in Keegan Hirst and Luke Menzies.
Jowitt also pointed out that such as Craig Cook, Ryan Esders and Scott Spaven had been at Hull KR for derby fixtures with Hull so are well aware of the local pride very much at stake in these encounters with no such things as a friendly.
The Rams’ boss remarked: “There is a good forecast so conditions should be good and I feel this game will be a humdinger. I can’t wait.”
Despite the promising forecast for the weekend, Dewsbury will take precautions and the covers they have borrowed from Castleford will go on the pitch. As Jowitt explained: “We would look silly if there was a sudden frost and the pitch was frozen because the covers were unused.
“This fixture is important to both clubs and we are very keen to get it played.”
The match, as usual, is a shared gate and there is invariably a better attendance at Tetley’s Stadium.
The gates will be open early as the Rams seek to sell season tickets in advance and take a big step towards their target figure of 500 sales in order to collect a £15,000 bonus from sponsors Eric France.
Dewsbury chairman Mark Sawyer said: “We have obviously not had any gate receipts since September 1 so this game represents a vital source of income for both clubs at a tricky time of the year.
“If the supporters can rally round and buy season tickets it will be a massive lift for us. I urge them to arrive early and make it easier for the office staff to cope before the match.”