BARRY EATON reckons arch-rivals Hunslet and York will be right in the promotion mix come the end of term – no matter what happens tomorrow.
Eaton’s Hunslet outfit host the City Knights at South Leeds Stadium (3pm) in the second weekend of the regular Championship One season, both teams having got off to winning starts against fledgling pro clubs.
The bookies expect the two to be in the grand final come September and, asked if tomorrow’s fixture will be an indicator of who will ultimately take the sole promotion spot, Eaton said: “It’s too early to tell.
“All clubs in Championship One have had a long pre-season but there’s nothing like getting stuck into the league format to find out where you’re at. It will be six or seven games before you can see a pattern forming – but I expect both ourselves and York will be up there.”
Eaton also played down the Hawks’ favourites tag, despite their good recent record against York.
“We recruited early and that probably played a part in us being labelled favourites,” he said.
“York were probably a bit later but they’ve got a good squad, with people like Iain Morrison, Jack Lee, who is an outstanding hooker, and Jason Golden, who is like a new player after his injury last year.
“We know it will be tough and we’re not billing ourselves as favourites.”
Hunslet fielded seven ex-Knights in their 28-0 opening-day win at Hemel, including almost an entire pack and three debutants in Aaron Lyons, Luke Stenchion and Brooke Broughton, who made the switch this winter.
An eighth, Danny Grimshaw, is fit again and poised to make a 100th career appearance.
Eaton said: “Many players play for quite a few clubs these days, especially at Championships level. There will be a bit of spice but I don’t think it will be part and parcel of the game.”
Also now in the Hawks ranks are Danny Maun and Andy Ballard, who form a centre-wing partnership of Championship standard.
Eaton said: “They’re both experienced players. I played alongside Danny at Batley and I’ve been trying to get him here for a while. York were keen as well. I managed to talk him out of retirement. Andy came to us late in pre-season but settled in really well. I’m sure they will form a decent partnership.”
Centre Lee Brickwood (knee) has joined hooker James Coyle (foot) in the treatment room, but Matt Cook and ex-Leeds starlets Jimmy Watson and Aston Wilson are chomping at the bit to come in.