WALNEY Central travel to Wakefield in round one of the BARLA National Cup facing the relatively unknown Kinsley Hotel Raiders, writes Paddy McAteer.

The Yorkshire side will face a Cents squad that is boosted by several key players who missed the majority of last season.

Will-of-the-wisp Brad Nichols retired through injury mid-season last year, but is tempted back into the fold and he will line up alongside his partner in crime Jamie Morrow as they form a solid half-back combination.

The Elliott brothers, Mike and Matty, are also back to strengthen the squad after missing most of last season in the North West Men’s League.

Mike had work and family commitments while livewire Matty was setting up his own plumbing business.

Former Barrow Raiders players Matty Holmes and Adam Nicholson add to what will be a big and mobile pack up front, with Jamie Ralph growing into a solid prop forward.

Unavailable, though, are veteran full back Stu Tippett, George Nichols and Jake Deveraux.

Joint-coach Dave Warne said ahead of the seven-hour round trip: “The lads are really up for this one we look at this game to set us up for the rest of the season.

“We started training six weeks prior to Christmas and are looking good.

“It’s nice to have so many of the experienced players back and competition for places will be good.

“We had a look at Kinsley on video they look a big side, so we are prepared and hopefully our fitness will be telling factor.”

The Cents will compete in the Premier Division of the North West Men’s League this season, after just missing out on a place in the National Conference League, and in two weeks take on Ulverston at Dragley Beck in round one of the Barton Townley Cup.

“We are looking forward to being in the Premier Division, though at the same time disappointed we missed out in the Conference,” said Warne.

“Last year was frustrating in Division One with so many teams refusing to travel, but it is different with Premier League clubs, they rarely miss out on a fixture.

“We are expecting a hard game at Ulverston, who are strengthened by the return of several players from Askam.”