ANTHONY MURRAY believes the pressure is on South Wales Scorpions to beat his North Wales Crusaders side tomorrow in the Big Welsh Derby.
The Wrexham-based outfit head to Cardiff Arms Park for a 5pm kick-off in the capital, with Murray’s team currently 10th in League One, two points off the top eight ahead of the division splitting in two in mid-July.
Crusaders have endured a well-documented financial plight in recent months but have stabilised matters off the pitch and are currently on a three-match unbeaten run following their 16-16 draw at York City Knights last time out.
Scorpions on the other hand - who will include former Cru centre Christiaan Roets in their line-up - lie 14th in the table after just one win from eight matches, despite bringing in head coach Phil Carleton in the off-season and a host of Welsh internationals including Yannic Parker and Connor Farrer.
“The pressure is all on them this time and it’s sort of roles reversed from when we’ve met previously,” explained Murray.
“They’ve had a new board, new coach, some good dual-reg players from Halifax and crucially have had some money to spend, whereas we’re in the position they’ve found themselves in in recent years. With the money they’ve spent you’d say there’s a fair amount of pressure to show that it’s paying off and to do that they need a win in a high profile Welsh derby.
“For us, the message is quite clear: go out and enjoy the experience and the game and the pressure is off. I just want to see improvement week by week from us and if we can improve on our draw at York we won’t be far away.
“Obviously it will be a tough game and there’s the added spice of it being a Welsh derby. But I’m confident we’ll put in a good performance.”
Andy Moulsdale has suffered a recurrence of his shin injury and will not feature tomorrow, while Tommy Holland and club captain Stephen Wild are also out.
“Andy’s not right with his shins and he’s having a scan, which is frustrating for him and unfortunate,” said Murray, who could hand new signing Billy Brickhill a first start, after he impressed in an open trial last month.
“It’s just frustrating he can’t get past it. Tommy Holland also has a knee problem, and Stephen Wild has work commitments.
“So we’ve got key players missing but we’ll have a look at the dual-reg with Salford and see if we can plug the gaps. We’ve got a good size squad now and we can cope with losing a few.”
Murray took part in Stuart Reardon’s testimonial match a fortnight ago at Queensway Stadium as a Crusaders side entertained Reardon’s first-ever club, West Bowling, from near Bradford.
The influential full-back - who is missing from this weekend’s squad due to work commitments - has enjoyed a 14-year career which has included spells at Bradford Bulls, Warrington Wolves and Salford City.
“It was a fantastic day and a great turnout and the club and organisers did a good job,” he added. “I pulled my boots on for 50 minutes and it nearly killed me! But I enjoyed it immensely and it was a lot of fun with the Crusaders lads and West Bowling.
“Stuart has had a brilliant career and when you’ve played over 350 games, played Super League and played for your country you deserve the plaudits.
“Stuart has been a great servant to North Wales Crusaders and helped the club in every way possible, and we hope we can still get one final season out of him.”
Pictures and report in Monday's copy of the Leader.