JOHN Kear looked ahead to his Odsal bow as Bulls coach and admitted: “I’m very excited.”

Kear takes charge of the club for the first time this afternoon when they open their pre-season programme against Halifax.

“It’s something I’m really looking forward to,” he said. “I know there will be a big crowd.

“You inevitably get big numbers on a Boxing Day and the derby element will add to it.”

One of last week’s new recruits, Dalton Grant, will play. Alex Brown was not signed in time to register with the RFL for the game.

Centre Ashley Gibson, sidelined last season with a serious shoulder injury, is set to make his first appearance since July.

Kear added: “Ash had a bit of tonsillitis last week and missed one of the training sessions. But I don’t see it is an issue.

“It’s looking good. We’re looking healthy and the ones who are injured are progressing well.

“We weren’t fussed with Alex not being registered for this one, because we want to look at young Josh Rickett. He’ll get a go on one wing and obviously Dalton will pull his socks up on the other.

“We’ll look to rest, rotate etc during the trials. They will all get plenty of game-time.”

While Kear would enjoy a winning start, he is more concerned with getting the preparation right for when the Bulls open their League One campaign at York on February 18.

He said: “I like to win – if you play me at tiddlywinks, I’d want to win it.

“It’s exciting with the warm-up games but we’ve also to keep things in perspective.

“It’s about performance of individuals and units within the team.

“If we play well and lose and there are some encouraging signs with combinations but beat York first game of the season, then I’ll be happy.

“The game I want to win is York City Knights away in the middle of February when there are two points on board.

“I know the fans will want to beat Halifax because it’s a local derby and it’s always good from a feelgood factor to post wins in trial games.

“But I’m solely focused on that first league game and that won’t change throughout pre-season.

“I see game one as being York and that’s the vital one to come away with the bacon.”

Trialist Daniel King from Widnes has also been included in the squad along with Huddersfield Giants loanee Mikey Wood.

Bulls squad v Halifax: Butterworth, Crossley, Davies, Garside, Gibson, Goodall, Grant, Halafihi, Hallas, Hodgson, Johnson, King (trialist), Kirk, Milnes, Minchella, Oakes, Peltier, Pickersgill, Rickett, Smith, Wood.