On Saturday Rochdale Hornets will take on Warrington Wolves at the Manchester Regional Arena in both club’s final pre-season fixture before the start of the 2017 season.
It is a great chance for the Kingstone Press Championship outfit to test themselves against top flight opposition ahead of the visit of Dewsbury Rams on Sunday 5th February.
It will be the first meeting of the two clubs since they became partner clubs at the beginning of the 2015 season, a year which was a success for them both.
Warrington went on to lift the League Leader’s Shield after topping Super League after 30 rounds, while Rochdale gained promotion to the Championship as champions as they defeated Toulouse Olympique in France.
Dual registration gives both clubs the opportunity to benefit from one and other, as Hornets players also feature for the Wolves’ reserves to gain valuable playing time if they are on the fringes of the squad or to get some minutes under their belts when recovering from injury.
That is something that head coach Alan Kilshaw feels is vital due to a limited playing budget and the inability to run a reserve team of their own.
“It’s very important and it’s a matter of having to with the limited budget and resources we have,” he admitted.
“For us to be able to call on Warrington players when we have injuries and suspensions or players out of form is a huge boost and means we can run with a smaller squad as we know we will get quality players in if those instances occur.
“We would love to be able to have our own reserve set up but whilst we are building to that, giving our players who aren’t in the 17 or coming back from injury or suspensions a run out for Warrington reserves is very valuable.”
The partnership also sees the club use the Super League outfit’s training facility at Padgate, which includes a gym, outdoor pitches and an indoor training barn. During the off-season the biggest disruption to a team’s preparation is the weather, however with these great facilities at their disposal it is no longer an issue for Kilshaw’s men.
And he feels that they need to take advantage of the position they are in with facilities when it comes to the start of the season.
“The facilities at Warrington Wolves Padgate campus are world class, I have been to a few NRL clubs and they don’t have the facilities Warrington have.
“Having the gym, fields, barn and video room all on one site makes it easy to transition between sessions.
“Our preparation has been first class and unaffected by the weather and we do need to take advantage of this when we start the season.”
Rochdale have a lot of playing connections to their top flight counterparts, as a number of the current squad have been involved with the Wolves at some stage in their career. That includes Chris Riley who won three Challenge Cup Finals with his hometown club, but there are also links in the coaching department. Kilshaw coached throughout the ages at Warrington, while his assistant Paul Berry combines his role with the Hornets with a role as assistant coach of the under 16’s at the Wolves.
That has added an air of excitement to the game this Saturday, however Kilshaw feels that the chance to face a team of their quality adds enough excitement alone.
“Playing a team of Warrington’s quality is exciting on its own but with several players based in Warrington and ex Academy or first team players, it adds extra motivation for the team to do well,” he continued.
“We are at the opposite end of the financial spectrum, I think Warrington have more staff than we do players.
“As a club we need to aspire to that level on and off the field, and taking small steps will go a long way to doing that which includes being competitive with them on Saturday afternoon.”
The game will be played at the Manchester Regional Arena which is a world class venue used by local amateur side Manchester Rangers, but is also part of a complex used by Premier League football club Manchester City.
It wasn’t possible to hold the game at the Crown Oil Arena due to Rochdale AFC’s FA Cup tie which is scheduled for the same time, and although that was disappointing the club are hoping to see a good crowd at their new home for the day.
“Look we would love to be hosting Warrington at Spotland, but when that became impractical using the Rangers’ facility was a great option.
“It was important for both teams that the game was on Saturday and not Sunday, so moving the game to Sunday at Spotland wasn’t really an option.
“I think it will be great to have the game at this facility and it could contribute to us helping to grow the game to a new audience. Warrington are sending a strong side and so are we so hopefully there will be a good crowd.”
As promised, tickets already purchased for the match which was due to take place at The Crown Oil Arena on the same date will still be valid for the new location. Any supporters who are unable to make it to the match at the new location will be offered a full refund.
Cash turnstiles will be open on the day and admission will be priced at £13 for adults, £10 for concession and £2 for under 16’s.