THE PACK will be ready to compete come what may, Whitehaven RLFC’s assistant coach has said.

Cumbria’s championship squad will face Dewsbury Rams in round one of the Challenge Cup on Saturday March 20. It will be their first game since the breakout of Covid-19.

Although Haven would have liked more friendlies before their first game in the 2021 championship, one against Newcastle Thunder will have to do.

The side’s assistant boss Jonty Gorley said that coaches are: “just getting the lads right for the first match. We’ve got Newcastle before that in a friendly.”

A planned friendly against Oldham fell through as works were needed to the Greater Manchester playing surface. Gorley said: “We really needed that second friendly. The lads haven’t played for 12 months, we could have done with that extra few games to get ready but everybody is in the same boat it’s not like Whitehaven are on our own in that.”

He said that it is just the nature of rugby league during the pandemic.

“If Covid hadn’t been around we would have liked three or four friendlies because of the size of squad. We’re down to one friendly. I’m just glad it isn’t a league game first. The coaches will go into scenarios in training to overcome that.”

Haven’s 2021 Betfred Championship campaign kicks-off in April with another clash against Dewsbury. They face Newcastle later that month before Bradford Bulls, Oldham and Toulouse in May.

Rugby league was still on pause at the point in the pandemic that football clubs were welcoming limited spectators into the grounds.

Although Whitehaven RL players will need to adjust to a quiet setting at the Recreation Ground, Gorley believes the return to action will still be welcome.

“It’s a bit of light at the end of the tunnel but there’s nothing better than supporters being at the game.”