"WE are not going there to make up the numbers."

So said York Acorn head coach Josh Mortimer, whose amateur side travel to professional outfit Rochdale Hornets in round three of the Coral Challenge Cup tomorrow afternoon.

The match sees National League Conference (NCL) premier division side Acorn face a side in rugby league's top three tiers in a competitive match for the first time since 2016.

It's also only the second time since 2012 that Acorn have faced a professional side.

Mortimer believes that this game is arguably the toughest that could have been drawn at this stage of the Cup.

"This is a big game for us," he said. "It's arguable that Rochdale are the best team currently in the competition having come down from the Championship last season.

"In theory, we couldn't have got a much tougher game. Maybe you could say that a trip to either Barrow or Workington with the long travel involved in that would have been tougher.

"But on paper and overall ranking, Rochdale are the best side.

"It's going to be tough for us and we know that. We know that it's not going to be easy and it will be physically tough.

"They will be going into the game wanting to do a job on us. It's up to us to not let that happen and to take our chances when they come.

As inferior as Acorn may look on paper in contrast to Rochdale, this weekend may be the ideal time to face the Hornets.

Rochdale lost 26 of 27 league games last year and have seen a whole host of changes to the playing roster, including plenty of signings from the amateur ranks.

It's also their first match of the new season, while Acorn have played two games already in the Challenge Cup.

"It probably is a good time to play them," said Mortimer.

"They've signed lots of players from the amateur ranks - who don't get me wrong are very good players.

"If there was every the opportunity for them not to be cohesive or for us to catch them cold, it's got to be this weekend.

"I'm not saying that we're going to win, but I expect us to compete.

"We'll have to be brilliant and they'll have to have an off day.

"But, this is rugby league and anything can happen."

Away from the field, it's also an opportune chance for the club to honour some of its most valuable volunteers and supporters.

"I'm not sure of what the situation is financially," added Mortimer, "but I know that we've sorted out buses for our fans.

"There's an Old Boys Society too who will be wearing the gear that they've bought.

"It's a chance to acknowledge some of our committee and volunteers, who have done a great job of fundraising for us.

"We're treating one of them to a box at Rochdale.

"It's about involving the wider club and saying thanks to them.

"It should be a good day for the club, regardless of the result."

l Elsewhere, Heworth continue their preparations for the new NCL division three season with a home friendly against Farnley Falcons tomorrow (2.30pm kick-off).

Heworth A, who again compete in the Yorkshire Mens League, entertain the same opposition (2pm kick-off).

The Villagers kick off their NCL campaign on Saturday, February 22 when Drighlington are the visitors to Elmpark Way.