Cougars player-coach Paul March is looking for his side to rediscover a “winning mentality” heading into Sunday’s final pre-season test at Championship rivals Batley (2pm).

March’s team have endured a mixed pre-season, with a thumping win over Rochdale followed by defeats to Barrow and Dewsbury.

With the Championship opener at home to Whitehaven on February 9 coming into sharp focus, March is demanding an improved display on the infamous slope at the Bulldogs’ Mount Pleasant home this weekend.

He said: “I’ve not made my mind up what my strongest 17 is yet so it’s up to the players to put their hands up and make a case for their inclusion.

“Everyone is playing for their place and this is obviously our last game before the new season, so I’m looking for a big performance.

“Over the years Batley has become a nice playing surface despite the hill, so we will be tested and that’s why we booked it in at this time of pre-season.

“We wanted the hardest friendly at the end. I know Batley have lost a lot of players but I can see them being strong again this season as John Kear has put some excellent structures in place.

“They’ve been in the Championship for a long time and are always there or thereabouts, so it will be a good test for us.

“Hopefully we can get back to that winning mentality and be consistent.”

Danny Jones is set to feature on Sunday after his recent honey-moon and Ash Lindsay could be back for the start of the season.

But March will be without a number of players this weekend. The Cougars chief said: “Sean Hesketh is having his baby christened and Paul Handforth won’t be available either because of that.

“James Feather took an early-guilty plea for the incident up at Barrow and serves a one-match suspension, while Andy Shickell has work commitments.

“Ash Lindsay’s shoulder injury is probably not as bad as originally thought, so there is a possibility he could be available for the Whitehaven game.”

March also paid tribute to assistant coach Glenn Barraclough following his departure, saying: “I’d like to thank Glenn for all his service to the club – he just feels he is ready for a change but he was someone I’ve enjoyed working with and have learned plenty from.”

There are no plans to appoint a replacement and March will be assisted by strength and conditioning coaches Adam Mitchell and Paul Royston.