NRC Preview: Whitehaven v Batley

Whitehaven coach Ged Stokes will be without Scott McAvoy (groin) and has doubts over Craig Calvert (groin) and Graeme Mattinson (calf).

However, Stokes remains hopeful that Mattinson will feature in Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup opener.

Stokes said: “Matty should be OK. We’re very hopeful because it seems to have eased for him.

“We got a few knocks on Sunday but the only real concern would be Craig Calvert with a groin strain. If his groin is even slightly suspect on Sunday then he won’t be played.”

On Batley, Stokes added: “They’re a team that has improved markedly in terms of the way that they play.

“They’ve always been resilient but last year they proved that they can beat anyone. We know it’s going to be tough but we feel that it will be a good, even contest and that’s what you want at this time of the year.”

Batley coach Karl Harrison will assess Tommy Gallagher before naming his final 17 to face Whitehaven.

Gallagher is Harrison’s only injury concern after Jason Walton recovered from a hamstring problem.

Harrison said: “Picking the team for this first game will be difficult.”

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