With ALEX DAVIS, LORRAINE MARSDEN & MATTHEW SHAW
Featherstone Rovers’ new signing Fa’amanu Brown already has his sights set on a place in Super League, and he says he will be doing all he can to make sure he is there with Rovers.
“It is really good that we’ve been able to get an extension to his original contract signed and that he will still be coming over and playing for us,” said Rovers’ coach James Webster.
“He’s a great player, who has played in five Tests for Samoa and he got some great experience at Canterbury and Cronulla.
“We’re really excited to get him over.
“He’s got a couple of friends in the area, with a couple playing at Leeds and Castleford, so moving to West Yorkshire is going to be pretty comfortable for him.
“He’s just looking to play at the best level he can and his goal is to help us get promoted. If he can’t do that he’ll hope to push his way to getting a contract somewhere else in Super League.
“So no matter what happens next year, we’ll have a highly motivated player.”
HALIFAX’s new signing Greg Worthington has been tasked with driving a winning culture at the club.
The centre has put pen to paper on a two-year contract with Fax ahead of the 2021 season.
As a player, Worthington’s record at this level is unrivalled. In eight Championship campaigns, the side he has played for has topped the table seven times, and that’s been backed up with two promotions and two Grand Final triumphs.
Individually he has scored 70 tries in 141 games at Championship level and, having now made the move to The Shay, he is keen to add to that record.
“I’ve been blessed to be in teams that have generally been winning teams,” he said.
“In doing that you get immersed in winning cultures and after speaking to Simon (Grix), he wants to build that culture into the club. He wants to build his own brand.
“After sitting and talking to Grixy I liked his ideas for moving the club forward. As a coach, because he’s only just stopped playing he’s very current with his philosophies. His ideas match how the game is developing, which is good to hear from my point of view. I like what he’s aiming to do to progress the club and I think I can bring something to it.”
The move will see Worthington return to part-time rugby after several years in a full-time environment with Leigh and Toronto.
“With the crossroads that’s come about from Toronto, it’s made me look at the bigger picture. I’m in the process of wanting to get my plans in place for life after rugby spot on and I think preparing for that and having plans in place long before I want to hang my boots up is a good thing.
“My main goal is to play every week. Halifax will provide me with that platform and that’s the stage of my career I’m at now. I’m done being sat in the stands and hanging around squads not being a first-choice centre. A few years back I had an injury that left me out of the game for the year and now I feel I have a lot of games to catch up on.”
As a Queensbury native, Worthington hopes his presence in blue and white will entice more fans to the club.
“There’s a lot of friends in my area, so it’s a nice experience to go down and play for their team rather than against it, and hopefully it might entice a few new fans from my village and local club. It’s an opportunity for kids at Queensbury who I’ve coached to come down and watch a few games at Halifax.”
YORK coach James Ford plans on absorbing as much Super League action as possible to help shape his recruitment for the 2020 season.
All coaches are continuing to come to terms with the new rules, though the cancellation of the Championship season allows Ford to study the game and come up with a game plan for his side next year.
But what he sees will also have a contributing factor on the type of player he tries to add to his squad, with the Knights still active in the market.
“It’s a strange place with the market,” said Ford.
“There’s an awful lot available and as coaches we have a lot of time to get it right, to watch games in detail and incorporate social distancing to meet players and do some due diligence on them as people.
“There are a lot of reserve-grade players out there that might not be kept on; most clubs are obviously streamlining their budgets, but that is an opportunity for us to capitalise.”
WIDNES VIKINGS‘ hectic recruitment continued into a second week as three players agreed new deals, three departed and Steve Tyrer signed for his hometown club from Halifax.
In a move first reported by League Express, Tyrer will link up with the Vikings after nine years at the Shay.
“I’m delighted to have signed for the club,” Tyrer said.
“It is a club that has always been close to my heart since I first played there in 2008, so to get another crack at it is something I am really looking forward to.
“It was always going to take a lot for me to leave Halifax, because I had been there for so long, and Widnes was probably the only club I would have left Halifax for. I feel like I have a bit of a point to prove at Widnes after how I left last time, so I am quite hungry for the challenge.”
Young trio Joe Edge, Calum O’Neill and Joe Lyons, meanwhile, have committed to the Vikings for next year.
All three starlets have progressed through Widnes’ Academy, with Lyons in particular now a first-team regular with the Vikings.
“I’ll be looking to keep a regular spot in the team and build on my performances from this season, and hopefully we can enjoy a successful year,” Lyons said on signing his new contract.
Three players have, however, left the club. Jack Johnson, Liam Cooper and club stalwart MacGraff Leuluai have all moved on.
Leuluai will head home after ten seasons with the club, while both Johnson and Cooper joined the Vikings ahead of the 2020 season.
WHITEHAVEN Chairman Tom Todd has promised more exciting signings to come following the capture of Ryan King from Australia.
The 23 year-old prop has previously played for Sydney Roosters and Cronulla Sharks and has become the club’s first Australian recruit for many years.
But they won’t be stopping there, as Todd and coach Gary Charlton look to put together a highly competitive squad for 2021.
“A lot of people might think that because there is no rugby at the moment nothing is happening at the club, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Todd.
“We’re talking to all our players from this year that are going to be out of contract, and we also have some really exciting new signings coming in for next year.
“We’ve been doing a lot of homework with a chap on the football committee called Mark Stamper, who has done a tremendous amount of work to get some of these new signings on board.
“When we announce these names I think a lot of people in Whitehaven will be very pleased with the exciting players we are bringing in.
“They will be coming in in key positions where we were maybe a little bit short when this season started and they will help make us more competitive in 2021.”
LEIGH CENTURIONS prop Nathan Mason is the latest Leyther to sign a new deal.
The former Huddersfield and London Broncos forward has put pen to paper on a new one-year contract.
He follows fellow forwards Tom Spencer and Alex Gerrard in signing new contracts, while the capture of Adam Walker has also been confirmed.
“Nathan simply loves playing for Leigh,” coach John Duffy said.
“He was so happy to join us last year after being at the club on loan.
“He totally bought into our pre-season programme and started the year extremely well, showing some real consistency in the games he played. Nathan is a quality player and along with the other forwards we have re-signed like Tom Spencer and Alex Gerrard plus Adam Walker, we’ve got some big boys in there with plenty of quality.”
DEWSBURY RAMS coach Lee Greenwood expects his players to be ready to go as soon as they find out if the Autumn competition will be taking place.
A meeting was held late last week to decide if the tournament could still go ahead with only five teams having registered their interest in playing.
“I am a Rugby League coach who wants to get back to coaching, and as players they should be desperate to get back too,” said Greenwood.
“If they are not like that, then I would rather them tell me now and they probably won’t get offered a deal for next year.
“They should be absolutely busting to get back to training and playing and they now have a bit of hope that they will be able to do so.”
SWINTON LIONS‘ recruitment drive for 2021 continued with the re-signing of both Deane Meadows and Sam Grant on one-year deals.
Both players joined the club late last year and while Meadows is yet to make his debut for the Lions in a competitive fixture, coach Stuart Littler is pleased to secure the services of the forward for next year.
“Deane has continued to get better throughout his time with us and his personal training has been really impressive throughout the lockdown period,” said Littler.
“Now that we have identified the best position for Deane, I’m convinced that we will see further development at an increased pace.”
Young centre Grant is a former Wigan Warriors Academy player who made his debut for Swinton in this year’s Challenge Cup game against Leigh Miners Rangers.
“Sam is another young player with a lot of potential for future development,” Littler continued.
“He has a very high skill set with a good understanding of how rugby should be played.”
TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE have retained French forward Maxime Puech for next season’s Championship campaign.
Puech has been within the French side’s ranks since 2013 and has played over 100 games in the blue of Toulouse and he believes Super League is on the horizon for his team.
“I didn’t see myself leaving the TO; I didn’t want to leave the ship on the way,” Puech said.
“We expect great things from this group. Super League is our objective and we will do everything to get there; we have to pass this milestone. It’s important for me to live great moments with this team, to continue to write history.”
However, Puech’s fellow forward Clement Boyer has ended his eight-year stint with Toulouse.
Boyer joined the club at the age of 18 and played 163 times for the club, scoring 27 tries, in that time.
Boyer said: “After eight years with the club, I am rather sad to leave Toulouse Olympique and the project to move up to the Super League, but personally, I needed a new challenge. I wish the TO all the best.”
SHEFFIELD EAGLES are in mourning after the death of former club director Ian Anniss.
Anniss started his association with the Eagles back in 1984, when he watched them play in their first season. But he became involved with the club thanks to the encouragement of League Express co-founder Tim Butcher.
He was also instrumental in helping to reform the Eagles after the failed merger project with Huddersfield, and he became a director of the new club, where he focused on the community side of Rugby League across the city.
“Ian had agreed to become the new Chairman of the Foundation just a couple of months ago and it’s with extreme regret we will not see this come to fruition as we know how much work and progression would have been made with him at the helm,” a statement from Sheffield Eagles read.
“A mentor and teacher to members of staff at the Eagles over the years, he was a fountain of knowledge and advice for many and supported everyone with a caring and passionate drive, a true gentleman.
“A huge loss for Sheffield Eagles, Rugby League in the city and the sport, he will be sorely missed.
“A private funeral service will be held at Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium on Thursday 3rd September with a Memorial Service for friends and family to be planned at a later date.
“The family request, if wished, donations made to two charities close to Ian’s heart: Friends of Thornbridge Outdoors or St. Luke’s Hospice. Donations may be sent to Wood Funeral Service, 848 Ecclesall Road, S11 8TP.”
BATLEY BULLDOGS have signed Jodie Broughton from Championship side Halifax.
The winger joins Craig Lingard’s side with vast Super League experience, having had spells with Salford, Huddersfield and Catalans, with whom he won the Challenge Cup.
The club has also confirmed the capture of former Super League forward Keegan Hirst, as first revealed in League Express.
Hirst will return in 2021 to the club he captained and led to a third-place finish in the 2016 Championship season after three years with Wakefield Trinity and a further season at fellow Championship club Halifax.
Meanwhile the club also moved to re-sign stalwart James Brown on a new deal heading into 2021. But both Jo Taira and Shaun Lunt won’t be with the club next year.
LONDON BRONCOS hooker or halfback Matty Fozard has thanked the club and its supporters after his move to Ottawa Aces was confirmed earlier this month.
The 25-year-old joined the Broncos from Sheffield Eagles in 2019 ahead of the their return to Super League.
He has seen his stint in the capital cut short after the Covid-19 pandemic saw this year’s Championship season cancelled after just five games.
“I just want to say a massive thank you to all the fans for the last two years,” Fozard told the club website.
“It’s obviously not the way I would have liked to end my time here, but I have enjoyed every second of playing for this great club.
“I was given an amazing opportunity to join when the club was promoted to Super League and I will be forever grateful for that opportunity and have made some lifelong friends and amazing memories.
“I wish the club all the best for the future and will always speak highly of this club. Thank you.”
OLDHAM last week signed outside back Tommy Brierley from Dewsbury Rams, while hooker Matty Wilkinson re-signed for 2021.
However, local star Harry Aaronson has announced his retirement from the game at the age of just 22.
“Matty has loads of potential and this is a really good re-signing for us,” said coach Matt Diskin.
“One of our priorities for 2021 is to bolster up and toughen up the middles and that should benefit Matty a lot.
“He will have more in front of him next season and he should relish playing behind a heavier and a more robust middle unit.
“I know Tommy very well. He’s a very talented kid who has had some injury problems.
“He’s over them now and there’s absolutely no doubt at all that if he can stay free of injury he has the talent to play and do very well indeed for us in every position in the back line.”
As for Aaronson, a new full-time job in recruitment based in Leeds will make it near impossible to commit to training, so he has taken the decision to step back and focus on his career.
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