BILLY Jowitt will be given every chance to stake a claim as Jordan Lilley’s replacement when the Bulls kick off the new Championship campaign.

Lilley could miss the first five games after tearing the outside ligament of his knee in training.

It is an immediate blow for John Kear, who spent most of last year having to juggle with a “half-back hoodoo” at Odsal because of injuries.

But the veteran coach is more relaxed about the vice-captain’s absence for the first month because he believes that youngster Jowitt is ready to step up.

The 20-year-old partnered close-season recruit Dec Patton in Sunday’s opening friendly against Batley and Kear could see a growing maturity in his game.

He said: “Billy is another 12 months down the track and that’s why I’m more confident about it. I thought he played well.

“He seemed more relaxed. He wasn’t rushing about here, there harum-scarum and trying to do the Hollywood play.

“He was happy just to play his part within the team. That was heartening to me.”

With two more warm-up games to come against Hull FC and Leeds, Jowitt is in pole position to get the start in the January 30 curtain-raiser at Dewsbury.

But there are other options still available to Kear.

“We’ve obviously got the dual registration route to go down as well and the Leeds partnership,” he added.

“We can also have a better look at young (trialist Ryan) Forshaw who went out for the last 10 minutes.

“I was going to give him longer but I thought Billy had done so well that you leave him out there.

“It is going to be on his shoulders and obviously we’ve got to sort out the full-back conundrum as well.

“We don’t know what our team is going to be in round one. We’ve a lot more soul-searching to do in order to come up with the correct thing for the Dewsbury game.”

Joe Burton and Lewis Camden were tried at full back against the Bulldogs.

Elliot Hall did not feature after just returning from an overseas holiday that had been booked well before his move to the Bulls.