BULLS head coach John Kear has always had faith in youth, and he is backing his two teenage half-backs to shine in the absence of Jordan Lilley.

With the 24-year-old banned for the first two competitive games of the season following a late tackle in the friendly against Swinton last weekend, one of Billy Jowitt or Matty Race is set to start in his stead in the big Challenge Cup tie against Featherstone next Sunday.

Kear said: "We won't be strengthening in that position immediately, as clubs won't let their players out on loan for Challenge Cup ties, as it leaves them cup-tied.

"So we'll be going with what we've got in Billy or Matty.

"But I'll have no sleepless nights about putting either of them in, they've both trained hard and have been doing well."

Kear supports the RFL over Lilley's suspension, saying: "I think the RFL are totally right and I back the ban.

"I'm one of the coaches who has been calling for better protection for half-backs and to clamp down harshly on late challenges on them.

"Jordan's on their scrum-half was both late and reckless, so we accept the RFL's findings."

On to more positive news, and Kear is thrilled with the signing of utility back Jack Sanderson, who goes straight into the squad for the friendly with Keighley today.

He said: "I am absolutely delighted. Jack is a player who spent time at Doncaster and has Super League experience with Hull FC and Castleford and I always thought he was pretty good.

"When we spoke to Jack and his agent I jumped at the chance to bring him in, as I know he sees this one-year deal as an opportunity to earn a longer-term stay.

"He's big and quick. Anyone who saw him in Cas' game with Warrington last season will know that.

"He went 80 yards in that game at one point, and that's Super League, so we know he can run and we're looking forward to seeing him in action.

"Because he can play anywhere from 1-5, it means we can bring him in without disrupting the side much, and we can move the likes of Brandon Pickersgill from full-back to pivot if needed.

"Having a man like Jack on the bench who can cover multiple positions is ideal."

Sam Hallas, Anthony England and Aaron Murphy are all missing from the squad against Keighley with injury.

Asked for a status update on the key trio, Kear said: "We're hoping Sam and Aaron will be available for the Challenge Cup game.

"Anthony is struggling a bit still, so I doubt he will be. I'm most confident with Sam, then Aaron, but not Anthony.

"Matty Race is missing for Keighley too, but he should definitely be fit for Fev."

Asked how much today's friendly will shape his starting 13 for next week, Kear said: "After the Keighley game, I should have a very good idea.

"Last week was more about getting contact after so long out, whereas now I'm asking people to put their hands up for a spot against Fev.

"It'll be interesting to see how they all get on."