NORTH Wales Crusaders head coach Clive Griffiths believes that a pre-season friendly is a great way to start a partnership with Widnes Vikings.
Griffiths' men take on the Vikings this Sunday at the Select Security Stadium as part of a four-game pre-season schedule, which also features clashes with Leigh, Hemel Stags and Doncaster.
And the former Wales coach says that he is looking forward to beginning the build-up to the Championship campaign against Widnes.
He said: “It’s a really good start to our partnership with Widnes Vikings to be playing them in a pre-season friendly.
“It’s an ideal opener to pre-season for us as we want to test ourselves against the best.
“The last time we played someone of Super League standard was when we played Hull in the Challenge Cup and we did well on the day – a massive improvement from the Wigan game the year before.
“Widnes will put out a strong team and that will test us. They’ve only played the one game against Warrington so far so they’ll probably be wanting to see how a couple of players get on.
“It’s different to any other pre-season that we’ve had before – it’s going to be a lot tougher – but it’ll be very good for us come the start of the season.
“Pre-season has been good. All the lads have trained really hard and we’ve been quite varied with the way that we’ve trained.”
Cruaders have recruited a number of experienced players in the off-season – and Griffiths says that he will be taking a look at some of them against Widnes.
He said: “I’ll be giving a few of the new lads a run out to see how they get on. We’ve still got another three games after Widnes so there’s no rush, but I’ll be taking a look at everyone during pre-season.
“Mark Offerdahl won’t play as he needs a bit more time to settle and neither will Gary Middlehurst, Stuart Reardon, Christiaan Roets, Jamie Durbin or Jamie Dallimore [because of either injury or suspension].”