Neighbour under no illusions

James Gordon

Gateshead coach Kevin Neighbour is looking forward to the start of the Northern Rail Cup on Sunday, and wants to use the competition as a development tool for his team.

Thunder open up with a game against Doncaster at the Gateshead International Stadium, before away trips to Whitehaven and York, and a closing home date with holders Leigh on March 4th.

Neighbour said: “We’re probably just about where I thought we would get. We’ve not played too many friendlies, partly due to logistics, but also because we didn’t want to risk over use and injuries to players.

“Injuries were a big issue last year, so I’ve been a bit wary and mindful of that.

“We’re not stupid, we’re not going to win it (the NRC), unless every other team has a massive injury crisis. But we’ll use it to see where we are and how players have developed.”

Gateshead have not beaten a professional side for 43 games, and have lost 20 of their last 21 games. Their last victory was 38-16 against Milford Marlins in the Challenge Cup last season, while their last win against non-amateur opposition was a 24-18 home win over London Skolars on March 21, 2010.