JOHN Kear is relishing leading the Bulls into derby battle at Keighley tomorrow and admits: It’s going to be special.

Around 4,000 fans are set to cram into Cougar Park as the neighbours meet on level ground in the league for the first time since 1976.

But Kear believes his team will be fully prepared to handle the emotions of the big occasion because of their experience at York on the opening day in a similarly-frenzied encounter.

Another bumper crowd saw the Bulls clinch a nail-biting victory with Joe Keyes sinking a long-range penalty after the hooter.

Kear said: “We’ve had a great practice. We only have to cast our minds back a month to going to York.

“It was a cup final atmosphere and a very high standard game against quality opposition.

“We only have to look back to that for our muscle memory and our thought process. I think that will stand us in good stead.

“It’s going to be tough because they are a good team and they’re on their own ground.

“It’s a local derby and there is some feeling between Keighley and Bradford that is well-documented.

“Any derby brings with it a higher intensity and that’s what we’ll get tomorrow.

“Cougar Park is a ground where the fans are really packed on top of the players and if we equal the crowd that went to York then it will make for a great atmosphere.

“I’m just looking forward to a special day, especially as it’s one day in 42 years!”

Vila Halafihi and Liam Johnson have recovered from the knocks that would have forced them out of the postponed London Skolars game.

Dane Chisholm’s game-time will also be increased but Kear remains careful on the half-back’s recovery schedule.

“It’s still up for debate. We talk with the medical staff and monitor his knee to see if it’s a little sore from training or the previous game.

“At the minute, it’s scrubbing up very well and he’s bang on course for everything we hoped.

“But I’ve also got to look at the bigger picture, not just Keighley or Hunslet next week but the season as a whole. We need Dane out on the field of play more often than not.

“If it means we gradually reintroduce him to an 80-minute game, that’s how it will be.”

Cougars beat Leon Pryce’s Workington in their League One curtain-raiser but blew a lead to lose at North Wales Crusaders in the Challenge Cup.

Kear is aware of the threat from a side who will be pumped up to be facing their neighbours for real after such a long wait.

He added: “Keighley are in our division so it’s a full-blown derby. It’s not about being one-sided, Keighley will contribute as much as we will.

“We’ve had a watchword that we’re going to respect the opposition and the competition because this is where we’re at.

“Keighley play some really expansive rugby league and ask good questions of your middles and edge defence.

“Keighley, York, Workington, Whitehaven, Hunslet and Oldham are the teams we know will be knocking there or thereabouts. They are our main competition.

“It’s a big game for us away from home. We know it will be a challenge but one we’re ready to embrace.”

Cougars coach Craig Lingard worked for four years under Kear at Batley and believes his appointment with the Bulls is a “marriage made in heaven”.

Kear said: “We worked for a number of years together. Craig knows exactly what my beliefs are and my philosophy – but I know his as well so that might cancel itself out.

“It simply adds to the intensity of the fixture coming up. It’s going to be a cracking test.”