Newcastle Thunder will travel to face Swinton Lions in round one of the Betfred Challenge Cup, as they take to the road for their first competitive fixture for a year.

The draw will see Newcastle renew rivalries with the Lions when they meet for the first time since 2015, over the weekend of March 19-21.

A home tie in round two will be the reward for the victors, with either Oldham RLFC or Barrow Raiders lying in wait the following weekend.

Coming up against fellow Championship opposition for their first game of the season, Thunder have an early opportunity to asses their pre-season preparations before the league kicks off later in the spring.

Thunder head coach Eamon O’Carroll said: “It’s really exciting to be playing in the challenge cup. Now that the draw has been done and we know who our opponents are it’s starting to feel real that we aren’t that far off to getting back playing after a tough year.”

Days and times for kick-offs for the eight First Round ties will be confirmed as soon as possible, following discussions with clubs and the BBC about broadcast and streaming schedules.