Former Rugby Football League referee Sam Ansell is ready to make his Underbank Rangers National Conference League debut.
The ex-Slaithwaite Saracens full-back and 2013 Holliday Cup final man-of-the-match quit his role as a full-time match official two months ago in order to pursue other career opportunities.
Since then, the 26-year-old has been training and impressing at The Cross, with Bank boss Richard Knight looking at handing him a start on the wing for tomorrow’s First Division trip to Hunslet Warriors.
Handing Ansell a first start is one of several changes Rangers are making to the side that won 24-6 at home to Shaw Cross Sharks six days ago to maintain their play-off challenge.
Also coming in are fit-again forward duo Craig and Jordan Williams to help bolster the pack, although Knight will be lacking the services of strike centre Adam Ryder, who is on duty for Halifax reserves at St Helens, and hooker Sam Rochford, the former Giants Academy ace who is being eased back into action after a year out of the game following a serious knee injury.
Ryder and Rochford are expected to return the following week.
And the fact they are the only players currently unavailable for selection at this late stage of the season is something that greatly encourages Knight.
“We’ve got some big games coming up, so for the squad to be in this sort of shape heading into them is very good news,” said Knight.
“Everything is obviously being focused on this weekend’s trip to Hunslet Warriors and making sure we win it.
“But we’re all conscious of the fact that after this one we’ve got fixtures against Skirlaugh, Featherstone Lions and Normanton.
“They’re all in and around us in the League table and fighting with us to secure a play-off spot.
“We know if we can win these fixtures we’ll be in a fantastic position, and I know with the squad I could have at my disposal there’s no reason at all why we shouldn’t enjoy a big finish.
“Having said that, we know we have to win at Hunslet tomorrow. It won’t be easy, but if we play well then we should be too strong for them.”
And Knight is looking forward to seeing ‘new boy’ Ansell making his mark.
“Sam’s a good player and has looked pretty impressive in training,” added the head coach.
“Although he’s played a lot at full-back, we know he can do a great job for us on the wing and gives us the option of making a switch if we need to.
“To be honest, choosing a side isn’t easy at all at the moment.
“We’ve got a number of players wanting to get a place back in the side, so it’s up to those who have the shirt right now not to give me a reason to make a change.”