BRADFORD BULLS will have an instant gauge in 2015 to the sort of opposition they must overcome if they are to make an immediate return to Super League.
James Lowes’s relegated side head to Championship Grand Final winners Leigh Centurions on February 15, the opening day of next season.
Impressive Leigh lost just one league game all campaign this year as they eased to the Leaders’ Shield and they have made significant investments in their bid to reach the elite now promotion has returned.
But Lowes, who will also encounter Hunslet, the side where he began his illustrious playing career, insisted: “I’m not bothered who we start with and who we play.
“Things like who we face at the beginning of the season, and who we play at certain points in the year do not concern me as you have to play every team home and away.
“And we know the challenge ahead.”
Bradford host Whitehaven a week later before another testing trip to ambitious Featherstone Rovers on March 1 while their traditional derby with Halifax will be reconvened at Odsal on Good Friday.
The team that fell out of Super League with Bradford – London Broncos – get their first taste of Championship action when they entertain Doncaster, who are led by the competition’s Coach of the Year Paul Cooke.
Newly-promoted Hunslet Hawks have a stern opening-day task given they go to beaten Grand Finalists Featherstone who, like Bradford, London and Leigh, are expected to be firmly in the hunt for a top-four place which opens up a promotion shot.
Elsewhere, Sheffield Eagles travel to Dewsbury Rams, Halifax head up to Whitehaven and Batley Bulldogs are at home to Workington Town.
In the newly-named League 1, Keighley Cougars – still taking legal advice over their relegation from the Championship – welcome 2014 League Leaders York City Knights to Lawkholme Lane for their April 3 opener.