JOHN Kear will throw down the pre-season gauntlet for the younger Bulls to emulate Brandon Pickersgill.

His squad are all going to see some game time in the warm-up schedule which leads up to their Championship return against Featherstone Rovers at Odsal on February 3.

With the returning Yorkshire Cup to follow the Boxing Day opener at home to York City Knights, there will be plenty of opportunities to stake a claim for first-team jerseys.

And Kear wants to see if any of the rookies in the ranks can burst on to the scene as Pickersgill did a year ago.

The experienced coach admitted the 21-year-old was a bit of an unknown to him when he assumed the Bulls helm.

But that quickly changed as Pickersgill seized his opportunity in pre-season.

Kear said: “We had five trial games last year and he played in every single one.

“I think he just made everybody sit up and take notice in them. That ultimately laid the foundation for the great season that he had, winning young player of the year.

“You never know but that might happen for the likes of Rowan Milnes or Keelan Foster. But they will certainly get opportunities in this pre-season.”

Pickersgill was a regular choice during the League One promotion campaign, although he was left out of the play-offs as Kear went with the extra experience of Gregg McNally.

But the youngster deputised consistently at full back through the Ireland international’s injuries as well as some stints in the halves.

Pickersgill’s form earned him a nomination on the shortlist for the division’s young player of the year, where he was pipped by team-mate Ethan Ryan. But he did win the club's own award.

His performances inevitably attracted some interest from Super League – but that was put to bed when Pickersgill signed a new deal to tie him to the Bulls for the next two years.

Kear added: “When I took the job, you obviously ask about people and Brandon was talked about with potential.

“But he certainly wasn’t talked about as someone for the here and now.

“I think he demonstrated throughout the season that he is a player for here and now. That’s all credit to him.

“If we get a ‘bolter’ or a couple of ‘bolters’ like that with our pre-season then I’ll be absolutely delighted.”