YOUNGSTER Alix Stephenson’s exciting pre-season form has persuaded the Bulls to hold off shopping for a replacement for Gregg McNally.

The teenager impressed coach John Kear when he played the full game in the win over Halifax.

And with the club’s reigning young player of the year Brandon Pickersgill aiming to carry on where he left off in League One, Kear feels the duo can carry the fullback duties into the new campaign.

He will give the pair first crack at the number one role before looking to fill the hole left by McNally’s unfortunate departure.

Kear said: “They’ve got first dibs at it. And if they show me they are capable of that week in, week out, I don’t think we’ll be looking elsewhere.

“Obviously, it’s given us a bit of money to play with. But, like anything else, you keep your powder dry and we’ll see how the season unfolds.

“We’ve recruited well and we’ve recruited frugally this year and I’m certain that, should we require anybody, the funds will be there.

“We know full well what we’ve got available and what we could potentially spend if we feel that it is necessary.”

The Bulls will use every fit senior player going into the double weekend against Dewsbury and Huddersfield.

Stephenson, whose sudden emergence in the senior picture mirrors that of Pickersgill’s before the start of last season, is likely to get another full run-out at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday.

Kear added: “The kid’s a player and he’s just taken his chance – he’s done a Pickersgill on Pickersgill.

“I’m absolutely delighted about that. He will obviously play this weekend, most likely against Huddersfield which will be a heck of a test for him.

“Should he come through that with a good performance, we really will have to start sitting up and taking notice.

“We’ve signed some big-game players and we’ve got some players with big reputations. But the thing that will keep anybody in the team is your performance not your name.

“That will be the signal I will send out throughout. Hopefully that will be heeded and allows individuals to perform consistently well and the team to do that as well.

“Everybody who is fit will play this weekend. Then we really are down to crossing the ‘T’s and dotting the ‘I’s and getting down to the serious business of Featherstone preparation.”

The Bulls’ first opponents back in the Championship this week added World Club Challenge winner Cameron King to their squad from Parramatta Eels.

Kear believes the NRL star’s debut at Odsal will add even more spice to the February 3 curtain-raiser.

He said: “That’s a very good signing for Featherstone and indicates it’s going to be a tough old league.

“It’s tremendous for the fans to see a quality player make his debut in the Championship.

“The two trial games have shown we’ve stepped up a level. We’ve had to play really well to achieve success in them.

“But both have been competitive and could have gone either way. We know that’s going to be the script for the season.”