RUGBY LEAGUE: Benson in buoyant mood

The Oxford Times: Second row Tala Petelo has joined Oxford RL Second row Tala Petelo has joined Oxford RL

Oxford Rugby League head coach Tony Benson says it is too early to set targets for their debut season.

But the experienced New Zealander is confident his side will be competitive in Kingstone Press Championship One.

Oxford, whose home ground will be Iffley Road, open up at Gloucestershire All Golds on March 29, but they will have a series of friendlies before that.

“We have not really sat down and said these are what our aspirations are,” said Benson.

“We have got a lot of work to do before we know where we are.

“But by the time March 29 comes round, we will be absolutely ready.”

There is no relegation from the league, but the champions and play-off winners both go up to the Championship.

Benson said: “Every team that takes the field has the aspiration of winning a competition.

“Being realistic, we have got a lot of inexperienced players who will take time to develop.

“We have got a bit of strength by bringing in experienced players from the north. There are ten of them now.”

Benson plans to have a 30-man squad initially, which can be supplemented by players from Super League club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats – who have a partnership with Oxford.

“We will probably need more than 30, to be honest,” said Benson.

“I think at Oldham, I used 46.

“We also have a dual registration with Wakefield Trinity if we need to use them.”

Benson added: “I see how they are training and think the fans will have a really exciting standard of rugby to watch.

“What I can ascertain at this stage is that there are some superb athletes.

“The wet weather has given us the opportunity to spend time developing our fitness.

“We have just got to get some game time and then we will know more.”

OXFORD Rugby League have signed second row Tala Petelo from West London Sharks.

Petelo said: “Being asked to join Oxford RL in the inaugural season is both exciting and a privilege.

“I’m looking forward to playing under Tony Benson and can’t wait for the season to get under way.

“It is always extra tough being the new team on the block, but having met the squad and staff, I’m sure we will be the team to watch for the coming season.”

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