OLDHAM Rugby League fans will get an early look at Matt Diskin's reshaped squad when Halifax Panthers come to Bower Fold on Saturday, March 13 (kick-off 4pm) in a pre-season match to be streamed live on Our League.

Fans will be locked out, but both sets are likely to provide big viewing figures, given that it's 12 months since they last watched their favourites in action and they've been starved of their weekly fix.

Another attraction will be the number of new players on view in both squads, Oldham with 13 fresh faces out of a squad of 28, Halifax with eight.

Viewing will be free to season-ticket holders.

A week earlier, on Saturday, March 6 (1.30pm), Roughyeds go to Featherstone for a similar friendly behind closed doors as coach Diskin looks to give his squad plenty of full-contact preparation for the 2021 big kick-off against Barrow Raiders in the first round of the Betfred Challenge Cup on March 20.

"I'm very happy that we've been able to arrange friendlies against Featherstone and Halifax ­- two clubs who have always been there or thereabouts in the Championship,” said Diskin.

 "They are both promotion contenders and both have strengthened well for 2021, so both games will be a good barometer for me to know exactly where we stand and that's what we want from pre-season games."

Diskin's 13 new boys are Tyler Dupree, Martyn Reilly, Luke Nelmes, Shaun Pick and Liam Kirk in the forwards and Tommy Brierley, Ben Heaton, Ben Holcroft, Max Roberts, Callum Green, James Barran, Ryan Ince and Joe Hartley in the backs.

The Halifax game will be a special day for Oldham centre Heaton, who began his career at Oldham but then had eight seasons in Halifax's blue and white hoops, making more than 100 appearances before returning to his Roughyeds roots via a short stint with Hunslet.

The new arrival could be directly opposed by Zack McComb, who became a firm favourite among Oldham fans before opting for Sheffield Eagles and later signing for Fax, his hometown club.

"I'm very happy about both our friendlies,” said Diskin. “They will both test us to the hilt and that's exactly what we want from this sort of game.

"We wanted opponents who would severely test us and Featherstone and Halifax will certainly do that." 

The Halifax game will be held just a week before first-round games in the Betfred Challenge Cup and will thus give both coaches the perfect opportunity to watch their new squads completing 80 minutes of full-on contact.

They will also be weighing-up individual performances, new combinations and fitness levels on the brink of a new and challenging season.