HEAD coach Leigh Paul-Rientoul will be "wound up" and wanting to prove a point after being tipped for relegation from National Conference League division one.

The Blue and Golds kick off their campaign on Saturday at home to Featherstone Lions (2.30pm), who, conversely, have been installed as the bookmakers' favourites for the title.

Paul-Rientoul accepts the Lions will be right up there, having strengthened in the off-season and then knocking premier division champions Thatto Heath out of the Challenge Cup last month. They also only lost 42-0 at League One title hopefuls Oldham in round three last week.

But he is hoping his own team can prove their worth too, and potentially even top last year's efforts when they reached the play-off semi-finals.

"It's didn't really bother me - in fact I think it's good," said the Acorn boss of the bookmakers' odds against his team.

"We can go out to prove a point, more than anything. It can put a bit of pressure on teams when they're expected to win the league. There's no pressure on us. If anything I'm hoping it winds my players up."

The Lions beat Acorn home and away last season, but only by a point both times.

Paul-Rientoul, who is also the BARLA Yorkshire coach, added: "They've recruited some players and got some back, so they'll be stronger than last year. They're big favourites this weekend, but are they that much better than us?

"They have three or four in the Yorkshire and they will want to get on over on me. We'll have to be up for it."

One such star is centre Gareth Gale who agreed a deal with Championship big guns Featherstone Rovers only to be released before the season started. He also then had a trial with York City Knights but returned to the amateur arena where he is expected to be a big player.

"He played for Rovers against Castleford Tigers in pre-season and scored a 50-metre try," said Acorn's boss. "He's certainly one we'll have to watch."

Winger Jack Stewart has left Acorn due to work commitments, leaving Paul-Rientoul with a headache out wide - "I have about 50 centres but no wingers," he quipped. They have also lost York & District player Elliot Bulmer to a broken leg sustained in training while Jack Byrnes also sits this weekend out after a minor operation.

But otherwise Paul-Rientoul expects to be picking from strength.