BEN COCKAYNE cannot help but feel the "buzz around the place" as York City Knights gear up for the big kick-off in Betfred League One.

A bumper crowd is expected at Bootham Crescent On Sunday as the Knights take on former World Club champions Bradford Bulls in the opening round of fixtures (3pm).

Cockayne, a marquee York signing this winter, is a veteran of many a big game in Super League in his long career with Hull KR and Wakefield, but he is still rubbing his hands in anticipation for this one as he makes his competitive bow with his new club.

"It doesn't get any bigger for us really," he said of the clash which is being termed the most eye-catching rugby league fixture of the day with no Super League action taking place.

"We've been training really well and we've played well in patches in pre-season. I think we're looking good.

"We won't be over-confident. We're not dumb enough to think Bradford aren't going to come and give it to us in a big way.

"But we are looking forward to it as a club - not just as a team but as a club as a whole. There's definitely a buzz around the place and everyone is excited."

Asked if he was relishing bringing his big game experience to the fore on Sunday, he said: "I'm relishing the whole challenge of trying to get York City Knights up to the Championship.

"That's what we want to achieve. We've not sat down as a group and said, 'We want to finish number one,' or anything like that.

"But when you look at the set-up and the players that have been brought in, you've got to say that's the intention and that we want to get promotion, and I echo that.

"That challenge is something I'm really looking forward to."

Cockayne agrees with most pundits that Bradford will start the day as clear favourites, not only for this match but for the League One title.

The Bulls still have a good number of full-time stars on the books despite their fall into the third division, and they also have former Hull, Wakefield and England boss John Kear at the helm, the two-time Challenge Cup winner having been tasked with getting them back into the big time.

But 34-year-old winger Cockayne reckoned Kear, too, was entering new territory - and not only as a coach in the third tier.

"I'd imagine they're favourites and we all know what John Kear has done in his career," he said.

"He's generally dealt with underdog teams and done a great job. But it will be interesting to see what he can do with a team who are big favourites.

"They've got a couple of big units in the pack and a bit of 'X factor' with the likes of Dane Chisholm and Lee Smith, who can still play.

"I was also really impressed with a kid called Ethan Ryan when we (Hull KR) played them last year.

"It will be a real good test to see where we're at."

He added: "This first game is not the be all and end all - far from it.

"It will give both teams an idea of what they're about and give the rest of the league something to look at.

"It will certainly be the most interesting game of rugby league this weekend for anyone on the outside looking in."