THE BESPOKE Guardians Swindon Wildcats head coach Aaron Nell says this weekend’s Autumn Cup opener against Telford Tigers will be a “big game” against a team “we couldn’t get a handle on” in previous meetings.

The Cats chief leads his team into the first competitive action of the year with six of seven previously-absent players expected to return to the fold following minor injury issues.

Those half-dozen who are expected to return to action will hope to play a part in a successful launch in a competition which represents the first piece of silverware up for grabs.

Previewing the weekend against Telford and The Bees, Nell said: “The first week of pre-season, you’ve got so much adrenaline and you just want to get back into it – especially this year.

“In the second week, you are starting to look forward more to the real stuff.

“It’s going to be a big game for us, it will be a great game with Telford who were without doubt the best team two years ago.

“They were the one team we couldn’t get a handle on, so it will be a good measuring stick for us early in the season to see where we’re at.

“And there is an opportunity for redemption against the Bees too – it will be two good games.”

Reflecting on the final week of pre-season, Nell said the 13-7 aggregate reverse – which featured a 9-5 defeat at home on Saturday – was difficult to take positives out of, but did give credit to the bit-part squad that fought to keep the game on Sunday much closer.

Nell said: “There’s not loads you can take out of a weekend like that.

“I was disappointed with how we ended the game on Saturday – it was too open. We can’t play like that, we’ve got to be a lot tighter.

“But on Sunday, we had even more players out through injury, but we played a lot tighter and a lot harder.

“I was really proud of how the older players and the younger players handled that situation because the final game of pre-season is always very difficult.

“We would have liked to have won, but missing seven of our better players was tough, so their attitude was good to see.”