GAME week is here at last for Whitehaven RLFC who prepare for a pre-season friendly against Newcastle Thunder on Sunday.

The pre-season game will mark the first time Haven have played in 12 months. It is a welcome run out for the side before they take on Dewsbury Rams in their first Challenge Cup game on March 20. Head coach Gary Charlton said: “It’ll be good to see how far they’ve come in training. It gives us a good insight into how we need to be.”

The Kingston Park side will be a good measuring stick for Haven going into a competitive Challenge Cup.

Charlton said: “Newcastle have a lot of top players – they’ll be hard to beat this year.” He said that “a talented pack of forwards” is one of the things the side has going for it.

“It is a pre-season (game) but we need to do all the little things right in the pre-season games.”

Player welfare will be a top priority in the coming games.

“We need to look after them. They won’t be battle hardened like they would.”

He added that most teams this year have ensured they have a big squad as they know players will pick up injuries.

“I think the biggest thing this year is that we keep the main players (on the field).”

The friendly against Newcastle will be an opportunity to see new recruits on the field for the first time as Haven players. Charlton revealed that Greg McNally, Liam Cooper, Sean Croston and Dean Zammit will take to the field on Sunday.

“All of the lads that are new to the team will get a run out this weekend.”

After Newcastle, prep will be back underway for Dewsbury Rams.

“Dewsbury, they’ve been a Championship team for quite a few years now. We need to be competing with those teams especially at home.”

Yesterday marked one year since Dewsbury travelled to the Recreation Ground in Whitehaven and fortuitously it turned out to be Haven's last game of 2020.

They will look to make amends in the Betfred Challenge Cup for the 2020 defeat. Whitehaven's first game of the Championship campaign on April 3 is also against the Rams.

A spokesperson for the club said: "The world has changed so much since then but our return to the field is near as we welcome Dewsbury again and while we can't welcome fans back to the Recre just yet this is the start start of normality returning to the club."