JOHN Kear believes the Odsal army have another key role to play for the Bulls this season.

Kear’s side were well backed by a big support throughout the League One promotion campaign.

And he insists that level of encouragement from the terraces can again make the difference as the Bulls return to Championship rugby.

Sunday’s home clash with Featherstone is a mouth-watering introduction to the new competition – and Kear hopes the fans will be out in numbers.

He said: “I’m sure they will get behind us as they did last year, which was fantastic.

“It was tough for us because it was a Grand Final every week but the fans certainly helped us to achieve our goal.

“They appreciated the players’ efforts on the field as well and I hope it’s similar this season.

“The fans feed off the players and I’ll tell you that the players certainly feed off the fans.

“We want that air of positivity, excitement and enthusiasm coming off the terraces when we need lifting and just to keep us going when we’re on a roll.”

The Bulls are without six injured players as they name their first 19-man squad of the season today.

As well as long-term casualties Ross Peltier, Olly Wilson and Callum Bustin, Kear is also missing Dalton Grant (groin), Ashley Gibson (arm) and Joe Keyes (back).

Kear added: “Dalton is getting better and should be back for the reserve trial game at Hunslet. Ash Gibson has still not recovered from the injury he picked up against Batley.

“We feel we’ve identified the problem with Joe Keyes and his back spasms. We’ll be doing a bit of prehab work to ensure that it doesn’t occur as frequently but he won’t be considered for Sunday.

“But there is still a lot of quality that is available.

“The squad was built with a season-long campaign in mind. It’s a squad with lots of depth and quality.

“We feel we can handle injury, loss of form and suspension and playing two games a week, which is obviously what we’ll get over Easter.”

Kear can sense the mood within the camp has ramped up as the Fev game approaches. The pre-season friendlies have provided a taster of what the Bulls can expect from stepping up a division.

“They’ve all been tight games except for Toronto, which I’ll take responsibility for,” he said.

“I changed the team so much – you’re not going to do very much with regards to a competitive result with 25 players in a trial game.

“We’ve had a real good pre-season and the games have been close. It’s going to make for some fascinating and tough, titanic battles.

“We had a training session on Tuesday in very cold conditions. But the standard was absolutely outstanding.

“It was full of energy and intelligence. There was just a buzz about the place.”