ELLIOT Minchella believes the close encounters in the Championship can bring the best out of the Bulls this year.

John Kear’s side opened their account with a tense 17-16 win over Featherstone at Odsal last week.

The Bulls now head to Swinton, where they will be expected to follow that up against the club that needed a play-off win over Workington to stay up last season.

But vice-captain Minchella is enjoying the added competitiveness of the fixture list – in contrast to the blow-out victories that they clocked up on the way to promotion from League One.

Minchella said: “You don’t want to play in the 50-0s and 60-0s. Sometimes we’d come off the field last year and it didn’t feel like we’d won like that.

“It had got a bit sloppy and we’d been making errors but it almost didn’t matter because we knew we’d win the game.

“It’s much more satisfying when you win by two or four and it goes right down to the wire. It means a lot more like that.

“Even when we beat Batley in the Yorkshire Cup final by two the other week, that felt much better than winning by 100 points.

“It’s probably the toughest Championship they’ve had in years and it’s going to be good.

“There are no dead rubber games like last year. We’d look at some and know we’d win – it was just by how many.

“We can’t do that this season because every game is going to be very tough. There’s not one team who are that poor.

“But you want a tough competition and that’s where we’re at now on the back of getting promoted last year. It’s up to us to do well.”

That competition also extends to the training ground during the week. Kear has made it clear that anyone slacking off at Tong will find their spot in jeopardy because he has so many options.

Minchella added: “There is back-up for every position. Everyone is pretty versatile.

“With me in the second row, there are four or five of us who are arguably all starters. It’s a good headache for John to have.

“Rather than not having enough players, we’ve got a 38-man squad this year. We’ve got quality in depth and that keeps everyone on their toes.

“You have to train hard and play hard because if you don’t, then you’ll be out and there is someone else ready to come in.

“But that’s healthy. If there’s nobody pushing you like that, you can get a bit complacent.

“It’s not like that at all here, especially when you look at the young lads we’ve got coming through the academy. It’s unbelievable how strong we are.”

The likes of Matty Storton have emerged on to the scene and Minchella is very aware of the challenge the promising youngster poses to his own role.

“He’s my position and one I’m looking over my shoulder at,” admitted Minchella. “I know that if I’m not on my A game then he’s going to come in and take my space.

“The club is in a good spot, healthy and everyone’s really enjoying it.”