BULLS head coach John Kear has admitted that his side were not good enough in their pre-season trial games in 2021, but he is hopeful about the stern tests that await ahead of the 2022 Championship season.

Bradford will be taking on big rivals Halifax at Odsal on Boxing Day, before hosting Batley a fortnight later. They will be playing two more friendlies, but those have yet to be announced.

Halifax and Batley were in the end of year play-offs alongside Bulls in 2021, and when asked if that was a factor in them being pre-season opponents, Kear said: “There is an aspect of that, in that they were both close competition for us last season.

“But first and foremost, Halifax is a big local derby, which gives that game an extra edge.

“Batley surprised everyone last season, except maybe those within the game, so we can really test ourselves in those two matches.

“We’re looking at having another couple of games in pre-season, and they’d also be against tricky opposition.

“We want a tough pre-season schedule, because we were a bit soft in our trial games against Swinton and Keighley in 2021, and I think that bled into the start of the campaign.”

Kear added: “We’ll be treating the trial games as very intense training sessions almost, and we’ll be trying certain structures and combinations.

“They’re a chance for players to put their hand up and cement their place ahead of the season too.

“A good example is at full-back, where you’ve got Elliot Kear, Elliot Hall and Joe Burton all fighting for that spot.

“How they do in practice and in those trial games is going to determine who starts at Dewsbury on the opening day.”

Hall was one of a multitude of new signings for Bradford in the off-season, with more expected through the door before the end of 2021.

But asked if it was a case of too many, too soon, Bulls head coach Kear said: “If you’re just looking at the first team alone, the turnover is not that big.

“The reason we have so many new faces is that we’re running a first team and a reserves side, when we only had the firsts last year.

“We’re not keeping them separate though, and we’ve got the reserves training with the first team.

“That’s because if someone is doing well in the reserves and is deserving of a first-team chance, it means they can come in to the squad without having to learn play calls from scratch.

“We’ve brought lads through from our academy, as well as got them in from Castleford’s and Leeds’, and it’s just energised everyone.

“It’s been a marvellous first couple of weeks of pre-season.”