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Page last updated at 20:32 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Brian Noble says Crusaders under-prepared for season

Brian Noble
Noble will be without Wales captain Ben Flower for the Crusaders' opener

New Crusaders coach Brian Noble admits that his side are under-prepared for Friday's home clash with Leeds Rhinos.

Noble has had less than two months to virtually rebuild the old Celtic Crusaders squad following their takeover and move to North Wales.

But the Crusaders still agreed to bring Friday's Super League opener forward to accommodate the Rhinos' World Club Challenge meeting with Melbourne.

"Whether we're ready or not, we're playing a match on Friday," said Noble.

"Obviously, I've alluded to the fact that we needed more preparation time and a few more players and perhaps we would have been ready.

"But we haven't got those things. We start on Friday. We're looking forward to it. The players will be very motivated.

"We're disappointed we haven't been given more time. While the squad is not complete and we're under-prepared, our task is to kick off Super League on Friday night."

We have the highest hopes and aspirations for them but by my standards they're probably not ready yet

Crusaders coach Brian Noble

In rebuilding the squad, Noble, who took over from out-going coach John Dixon in the close season, has so far made nine close-season signings.

They add to the 10 survivors from last year's wooden spoonists and the four Welsh youngsters promoted from the academy.

Wales captain Ben Flower has been ruled out of Friday's game at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground with a toe injury sustained in training.

And Noble admits he may have to turn to some of the youngsters who filled in for the club towards the end of last season.

"We've got about 19 players training at the moment and a couple of those are under-18 Welsh kids who are probably not ready for Super League," he said.

"We have the highest hopes and aspirations for them but, by my standards, they're probably not ready yet. They might have to play and that's not to say they won't give a good account.

"I'm excited by what we might achieve on Friday and we'll certainly get a template as to where we're at.

"After Leeds, we've got Wigan second up but that can be a good thing.

"At least we will know what the best looks like after Friday and then we'll know what another top-four side looks like after that."

Crusaders' preparations were badly affected by the severe wintry weather and the cancellation of their only trial match has left them desperately short of match practice.


Noble, who missed the club's early sessions after undergoing major knee surgery, stepped up training when he took his squad to Premier League football club Aston Villa's training centre last week. But he admits that it will be several weeks before he is able to fully make his mark on the team.

"It's difficult," added Noble. "We were very vigorous with them last week and got a full week of practice into them. We're as ready as we can be.

"I would have liked a couple of games and I'd have liked another six weeks with these people as well to teach them the way we want them to play, but that will have to be on-going for us."

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see also
Crusaders sign Hull winger Raynor
21 Jan 10 |  Crusaders
Crusaders seal Trimarchi signing
17 Jan 10 |  Crusaders
Crusaders sign GB prop Thackray
15 Jan 10 |  Crusaders
Crusaders complete double signing
29 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Mason turns down Crusaders offer
06 Jan 10 |  Crusaders
Crusaders snap up Australian duo
20 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders 'missed out' on players
16 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders recruit half-back Witt
08 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Crusaders sign ex-Hull hooker Lee
02 Dec 09 |  Crusaders
Super League Show
17 Feb 08 |  Rugby League

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