With ALEX DAVIS, LORRAINE MARSDEN & MATTHEW SHAW
YORK CITY KNIGHTS have confirmed their signing of London Broncos halfback Morgan Smith on a deal for next season, as first revealed in League Express.
Smith, the son of former Knights star John Smith, will arrive in North Yorkshire after making 17 appearances for the Broncos in Super League in 2019 and a further 25 for Warrington Wolves in the top tier.
“I’m really happy to have signed with the Knights,” said Smith.
“I know that the club is on the up with plenty of ambition and I’ve seen the progress they have made over the last couple of years with a coach who I believe can help me improve and progress personally.
“Personally, I want to play the best rugby I ever have in 2021, but my overall aim is to do as much as I can to help the club push for promotion.”
Meanwhile, the Knights were also able to announce the capture of Wakefield Trinity captain Danny Kirmond for next season’s Championship, as the Knights beat off stiff competition for the former Super League Dream Team member.
“I’m delighted to be joining York for next season, obviously being at Wakefield for so long, the next step had to be the right challenge for me. Having spoke to Fordy (James Ford) a couple of times his commitment and enthusiasm were immediately infectious and I knew York was the place I wanted to be!” Kirmond said.
“I’d like to thank James and Jon (Flatman) for this amazing opportunity to be a part of a club with amazing facilities and a desire to succeed, not to mention being a part of the wonderful city that is York.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting all the team, staff and of course the fans and having a successful 2021 campaign.”
BATLEY BULLDOGS coach Craig Lingard has confirmed his has almost finalised his squad for 2021 after the club announced five more re-signings last week.
Staying with the club for another twelve months are Dale Morton, Anthony Bowman, Aiden Ineson and Lucas Walshaw, while Josh Tonks has joined from Hunslet.
“A couple of months ago the Chairman asked for a list of 14 or 15 players that I definitely wanted to keep for next year, so I categorised squad into the ones I wanted to tie down immediately and the ones we’d then look at, depending what our budget was going to be,” explained Lingard.
“We still don’t know fully what that’s going to be, but we took a bit of a gamble and we’ve got every one of those 15 players I definitely wanted to keep signed up.
“I have spoken to the others that didn’t fall into that initial group and they know that we’re not going to not keep them, but we just can’t offer them anything just yet. They know that it might change, and for some of them it already has and they have signed.
“There are still a few names and new faces to announce, but we’re almost done now. There are maybe just a couple of spots left available to fill, depending on our final budget.”
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS have added five new faces to their 2021 squad with the arrivals of Frankie Halton from Swinton Lions, Callum Field from Leigh Centurions, Leeds Rhinos product Harvey Spence, Castleford Tigers Academy prospects Jacob Doyle and Joe Summers.
On the new arrivals, Football Manager Steve Gill said: “Frankie was the stand-out player against us earlier this year, his size and pace caused us a lot of problems.
“He was certainly one of the most impressive backrowers in the division at the start of the season.
“Callum comes to us after breaking through a great Academy set-up at Wigan Warriors. I’ve watched his career for many years, and this is the third time I’ve tried to sign him.
“He’s a tough, uncompromising middle who has a winning culture in him. He is a Pontefract born player and was really keen to buy into James’ plans to bring players to the club whose careers are on the up.
“James identified him as a player he would like to bring into the squad for 2021. We are happy he decided to join us as we had some competition for his signature.
“Harvey is a young halfback who played with us and against us in the pre-season friendlies versus York and Leeds; he is a good talker and organiser with a great kicking game.
“He has come through the Leeds Rhinos Academy and we believe he will develop nicely under the guidance of James Webster.
“We’re really pleased we have been able to bring Jacob into the fold too.
“He loves to do the hard work coming out of back field and also has a great defensive skill set, as well as an excellent try scoring record with Castleford’s under-19s. He is another player whose career is growing promisingly and is a welcome addition to the squad.
“Joe will add some real quality to the depth of our squad as a middle or backrower; he’s certainly not afraid to put a shift in. He’s a very powerful runner of the football and has a great late step, which makes him hard to handle.
“He has a great pedigree and is a quality young player who will certainly develop further in our environment.”
BRADFORD BULLS players Matty Dawson-Jones and David Foggin-Johnson have become the latest to commit to the club for the 2021 season.
The duo take coach John Kear’s squad up to 14 confirmed names for 2021.
“Matty slotted in seamlessly, even though he joined so close to the start of the season and I was very keen to keep him,” said Kear.
“The fans saw his try scoring potential, even in just a few games at the start of the year but one of the other thing that really impressed me about Matty is his efforts in bringing the ball out from the back.
“He is another hard-working honest fella who goes through a great amount of work in attack and defence. If you look at his record, he is another player with a fair few games on his record and he is very durable as well; he’s generally been injury free and he is another Super League standard player.
“David is a very useful option, as anyone who has seen his performances in the big games against the likes of Leeds and Wakefield can see. He has always been a threat carrying the ball.
“He is wholehearted in everything he does and we welcome his enthusiasm and hunger in 2021 to challenge the more established players in the squad.
“By signing Foggin-Johnston we are keeping all the threequarters on their toes. He really is saying if you are not at your best I am at your heels ready to take your place.”
WHITEHAVEN have added two more familiar faces to the ranks for next season with experienced centre Chris Taylor and former loanee Liam Cooper signing deals for 2021.
Taylor, who has scored 40 tries in 136 appearances for the club since making his debut in 2014, and Cooper, who played in 18 games for the club in 2018 whilst on loan from Super League side St Helens, have both penned two-year deals at the Recreation Ground.
Cooper has since been in the Championship with Widnes Vikings.
“It’s great news for the club that once again Chris Taylor has re-signed for us,” said Haven Chairman Tom Todd.
“We all know Chris’ abilities and his passion for the club. He adds a dimension of experience to the threequarter line and off the field the man is a proper gentleman.
“It’s great to see players committing to the future and it’s all part of the continuing pattern of Gary Charlton building a strong squad for 2021.
“Liam’s availability came up very quickly and the football committee had to act very swiftly to get his signature.
“We all remember him from when he had a previous stint here and he certainly adds more power in the forwards.
“Gary’s team seems to be going from strength to strength at the moment and the 2021 season can’t come soon enough.
“This will be one of the most entertaining sides that has graced the Recreation Ground for some time.”
OLDHAM‘s squad for 2021 continues to take shape after the club confirmed the signing of Dewsbury Rams prop Martyn Reilly, a move first reported in League Express in August.
The prop had other offers on the table before agreeing to join Matt Diskin’s Oldham, where he will link back up with fellow frontrower Luke Nelmes and winger or fullback Tommy Brierley, who have also joined the club from Dewsbury.
“This is another very good signing for us,” said Diskin.
“For a 24-year-old, Martyn is a very experienced Championship forward. He’s good with ball in hand, but he’s also rough and tough as well and you need that in your middles.
“We perhaps missed a little bit of that when we started off in the Championship earlier this year.”
With recruitment on the field continuing, off the field Diskin will continue to work alongside Brendan Sheridan, who has signed a new deal to remain as assistant coach.
“I’ve always thought highly of Brendan, that’s why we took him out of the amateur game last year,” added Diskin.
“He’s a very talented young coach. He’s very astute and very efficient and he adapted well and very easily to the demands of the job at Championship level.
“I enjoyed working with him and I’m looking forward to working with him again in 2021.”
LONDON BRONCOS coach Danny Ward does not believe a dip in funding this year will lead to the club having to change from being a full-time club.
Budgets across the Championship are expected to be hit hard next season and as one of the only full-time clubs in the competition, a switch to part-time or a hybrid system could make up the shortfall for the capital club.
But Ward doesn’t believe that is an option being considered by the club.
“That is a conversation for the owner and the CEO to have. I have haven’t spoken to them yet but it is not an option as far as I know,” said Ward.
“I am hoping that we can carry on as we have been as a full-time operation.”
DEWSBURY RAMS coach Lee Greenwood is hoping he won’t see too many more changes to his squad for next year, following the departure of Martyn Reilly to Oldham.
Reilly has joined Luke Nelmes and Tommy Brierley in moving to the Roughyeds and Greenwood believes their grounding at the Rams over the last couple of years has helped earn them a move elsewhere.
“The main remit for us was to keep as many of the squad together as we could and we have been trying hard to do that,” said Greenwood.
“I was happy with my recruitment for this season, so we are looking to keep the majority of that together and if we do that we’ve done well.
“One of the selling points of coming to play for Dewsbury and under me is that players know if they come and play well, impress and train hard then when it comes to the time to leave they’ll be better players and probably get a better offer elsewhere.”
TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE coach Sylvain Houles is still looking to recruit more players, despite already securing some strong signings ahead of 2021.
Toulouse won all five of their games pre-lockdown in the Championship, but Houles is keen to keep improving the squad heading into the new year and has already picked up the likes of Mitch Garbutt and retained key playmaking duo Mark Kheirallah and Johnathon Ford.
“So far we’ve got 21 players signed, so we will be looking at a couple more in the back row and lock positions,” he said.
“Those are the positions I’ll be looking at strengthen, but we are very pleased with what we have.
“We only played five games, but I thought our squad for 2020 was really strong. Now things have evolved and a few players have changed their minds after lockdown with families around them. They made different choices, so that forces us to think differently.
“With all the players that have left, I wanted to make sure we improved with our recruitment and recruited better players and people than we had before.”
Last week, the club announced the re-signings of both Justin Sangaré and Mathieu Jussaume to stay with the club in 2021.
SWINTON LIONS have extended the contract of young star Tayler Brown into 2021.
Brown, who is yet to turn 21, joined the Lions last year after coming through the ranks at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington, and made his senior bow for the Lions against Leigh Miners Rangers earlier this year in the Challenge Cup.
“I’m so honoured to have signed once again at Swinton Lions,” Brown said,
“Unfortunately, because the season was cut short I didn’t get much chance to play. However, I’m now looking forward to getting back into it.
“I’m excited at the thought of getting back together with the lads at training and then to have a good season on the pitch. Hopefully we can then make up for missing the majority of this season because I’ve missed it so much this year.”
WIDNES VIKINGS have revealed that they are assessing their options after halting their recruitment campaign for the time being.
The Vikings had been announcing multiple signings and re-signings, but have now paused to ensure they are able to pounce on opportunities that might arise later in the year.
“Having secured an initial squad of 20 players, now we must assess the market in order to only bring in players who are the right fit for what we want to achieve at the club, and play the style of rugby we are aiming for,” said a club statement.
“Last season our patience was rewarded with the signings of both Matty Smith and Logan Tomkins, deals which were not finalised until late in the recruitment process. Between those two players alone we were able to add experience of 428 Super League appearances to our squad, as they boasted Challenge Cup and Grand Final winners medals too.
“We understand supporters will be expecting further news, especially after a great start to our recruitment and retention drive. However, we will now be assessing the options that become available and will only commit to signing players who are the right fit for our aims as a club.”
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