HEAD coach Tony Benson said Oxford RL were closer to becoming a local team as they prepared for Sunday’s trip to London Skolars (2).

The Iffley Road-based club were one of three sides introduced by the Rugby Football League (RFL) last year to promote the 13-man code down south.

Although Oxford began with a core of players from league’s northern heartlands, the aim was to bring on Oxfordshire players too.

Benson said: “We have had a terrible run of injuries and player unavailability, but it has given us a chance to put in more locally based players like Sam Egerton, Luke Evans, Ed Vickers and Wes Newton.

“Jonny Morris was the latest to be released in last week’s game against Hunslet.

“We are well on the way to our promise at the outset of making this a predominantly Oxfordshire-based team and will set us in good stead for next season as we expose more players to this level.”

Sunday’s clash will be played at Hemel Stags as Skolars’ normal and temporary grounds are unavailable.

The hosts are one place above Oxford in the table, with the sides having each bagged a victory in their two clashes so far.

Oxford’s injury crisis show no signs of easing and they will give a late test to Michael Crabtree after he missed the defeat to Hunslet with a hamstring injury.

But they do welcome back Vickers and Egerton after the latter represented London Welsh at the Premiership Sevens in Darlington.

Oxford RL: from Benson, Blaney, Blewitt, Briggs, Brooker, Crabtree, Connick, Davies, Egerton, Ellison, Evans, Hoggins, Hayles, Lynch, J Morris, S Morris, Mulkeen, Newton, O’Keeffe, Parker, Rice, Roden, Rowland, Sharratt, Slade-Jones, Thomp-son, Vickers, Winfield, Wright.