With ALEX DAVIS, LORRAINE MARSDEN & MATTHEW SHAW
Halifax signing Gadwin Springer says he jumped at the chance to join the club following the demise of Toronto Wolfpack.
Fax swooped to sign the French international after Toronto’s Super League return was rejected, with the powerhouse signing a one-year deal with the West Yorkshire club.
Following an unsettling period, Springer is readying himself for a season of focusing on matters on the field, rather than off it.
“I just wanted some security, that was the key,” he said.
“I know some of the Toronto players don’t have opportunities to go anywhere else. So I’m very fortunate to have a club who wants me and is a good club.
“I spoke to Kevin Larroyer and he is loving his time here. He said the fans and the boys are great and it’s a real family club.
“I spoke to Simon (Grix) a few weeks ago but I was not sure because I was waiting on Toronto.
“But I spoke to Simon again and we just decided to make a deal. I think I played with Simon when I came on dual-reg for one game, this is when I was at Cas, so he must have thought I was OK!”
Despite spending the majority of his career in Super League with Catalans, Castleford and the Wolfpack, the 27-year-old has no qualms about plying his trade in the second-tier.
“Championship is a good level, it’s really hard, especially in the middle, there are some big players.
“It’s maybe slower than Super League but it’s not going to be easy.
“I just want to go there and enjoy playing rugby and doing my part for the team, and to see how far we can go.”
Simon Finnigan has said WIDNES VIKINGS were the only club that could have tempted him away from the job he was doing at Newcastle Thunder.
Finnigan, who was born in the UK but grew up in Australia, has a long running association with the club which dates back to 2003, when he moved back to his family’s hometown to pursue a career in the British game.
After his three initial seasons with the Vikings, Finnigan had playing spells with Salford, Bradford and Huddersfield before returning to Widnes for two more years.
His playing career came to an end at Leigh Centurions and he immediately stepped up to the coaching ranks at the club as assistant to Paul Rowley.
He then worked under Rowley at Toronto Wolfpack, before taking the head coach role at Thunder, guiding them to the League 1 Promotion Final in his first year.
Whilst some might see this move as the natural progression for a coach, for Finnigan, it is about much more.
“It was a really tough decision to make,” admitted Finnigan.
“Anyone who knows me, knows how much I loved being at Newcastle and it as an excellent place to be. Really the only club I would leave for would be Widnes, because it is a special club to me.
“It means a lot to me and it feels a lot like I have come home. I have lived my entire adult life in Widnes and I’ll never leave.
“The coaching progression is there, but I’m not looking at that – this in an important job for me.
“It means a lot to me and my family and I have a really big job to do here I am really excited by it.
“If anything, this is the end progression actually being back here and coaching.”
LEIGH CENTURIONS have made a real statement this week with the signings of Matty Russell, Nathaniel Peteru and James Bell.
Russell started the season with Toronto Wolfpack in Super League after forging a career early with Warrington Wolves.
“Matty is an explosive and powerful player who is a great finisher,” said Centurions Head Coach, John Duffy.
“Having coached him and played alongside him, I know what he can bring to our team and his versatility will also be crucial to us.
“He’s also a great lad and I think he is looking forward to being close to home again. Matty is another Super League quality player which is what we want and I’m excited by the recruitment we’ve been able to finalise this week and we’ll move on to other targets now.”
Peteru joins the club after spells with both Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR in Super League after making the move from down under.
“Nate is a big boy,” Duffy continued.
“He’s a no-nonsense forward who adds plenty of value to our squad and I am sure he will be a great acquisition for us.
“We’re trying to build the best squad we possibly can despite the current circumstances and it’s very exciting when you look and who we’ve got in our ranks at present. I was lucky to work with Nate when I was at Featherstone and he’s a great professional having come through the NRL systems. He has a young family and I’m sure they’ll be made to feel very welcome by the people of Leigh.”
Meanwhile, Bell was set to join the Wolfpack but joins the Centurions instead from French side Toulouse.
“James is a quality player and a quality person. He is a very humble man and totally dedicated to his goal of playing in Super League. I loved watching him during the World Cup – he’s a loose forward with great ball-playing ability.
“I’m very excited to have him at Leigh – he’s a player I’ve tried to sign before. He’s got great pass selection and gets through a lot of work, sometimes unnoticed. This is a sensational signing for us.”
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS coach James Webster has backed the club to do what’s in the best interests of the club after an extra spot became available in Super League.
Top-flight clubs voted unanimously last week to bring in a replacement for Toronto Wolfpack and make a 12-team league.
That has led to a number of clubs putting their hat in the ring for promotion, including Featherstone.
But Webster is confident they will only do this if it is the best interest of the club.
“I back Featherstone as a club to do whatever is needed to get that to happen,” said Webster.
“Every club that will be in the running will have a lot of positive points and what others will see as negatives.
“We’ll give it our best shot should we feel we fit the requirements and criteria to go up. But at the moment we still don’t know what the RFL are looking at.
“Are they looking at our performances, crowds, TV, big city, small town, heartlands, non-heartlands? We just don’t know what the league are looking for.
“But one thing this club has always been good at is being self sufficient.
“We’re in a good place financially, and while Mark (Campbell – chairman) and Davide (Longo – chief executive) have been extremely pro-active with players and having crack at promotion for a long period of time, they don’t want to do it at the cost of putting the club in danger.
“Once we get all information and know what’s happening we’ll know what else we need to do.”
DEWSBURY RAMS have struck a deal with Hull KR to sign winger Will Oakes on a permanent one year deal.
The 21-year-old, who made his Super League debut aged just 16, made six appearances for the Rams in 2020 whilst on loan from the Robins, who he was still contracted to until 2021.
“Will was enjoying his time with us and this was showing in his performances,” said Rams head coach Lee Greenwood.
“He has a point to prove to people, and himself, next year after leaving Hull KR and that can only be good for us.
“He has the potential to step back up to Super League and we are happy to help him try achieve this.”
The club have also brought in Salford and Warrington’s Academy graduate Jamie Abram, and Lewis Carr from Castleford Tigers Academy.
Abram, who’s brother Dan plays at fellow Championship side Oldham, can play in a variety of positions including fullback, halfback and hooker, while Carr is a highly rated winger that scored 39 tries in 21 games in on season for the Tigers.
Both players have found themselves looking for regular rugby next year following the loss of the Reserve Grade.
LONDON BRONCOS coach Danny Ward has said the club will wait until they know all the facts before deciding whether or not to apply for the available place in Super League in 2021.
The race is now on to find a club that will replace Toronto Wolfpack in the top flight for the 2021 season after the RFL announced the decision on which club to promote would be made by a committee headed by an independent chairman.
“The club are just waiting on confirmation from the RFL on the application process,” said Ward.
“Once we have got that we’ll go down the right channels of doing that.
“We’re not coming out shouting about what we’re going to do, we’re just waiting to go down right route and I am and letting club take care of that.
“If we did go back into Super League our budget for next year would change again but we’re in a good position just now.
“We still have space left open in the squad and left money on the cap to play with for any circumstances that come up and unfold.
“We’re not going to panic and rush to do anything, we’ll just see what happens.”
YORK CITY KNIGHTS are among the clubs who will be applying for the vacant spot in Super League next year.
“We would need to recruit more players. But in terms of the off-field criteria I think we’re a positive brand,” City Knights’ Chairman, Jon Flatman told iSport.
“We’ve got a demographic that supports the city, that is growing, and I think that’s important when you’re looking at any new organisation,
“York’s a positive city for running businesses and I think there’s a history of rugby league as well, a clear history of rugby league. I would like to think it’s about the potential of York as well as what we’re currently delivering.
“We’d be very excited to submit an application and judge ourselves against what will be some, clearly, high-quality candidates. But I believe we’re moving in the right direction [as a club], and this would continue that.”
SHEFFIELD EAGLES have revealed their home shirt for 2021.
The Eagles have returned to a classic red and gold star teamed with a traditional ‘V’ shape.
“It’s great to unveil the new home shirts for 2021, said General Manager, Liam Claffey.
“We wanted a bold yet traditional design, reflecting the club’s history and colours and we are really pleased with the excellent design we have created with OXEN.
“This is the earliest we think that replica shirts have been on sale for supporters and with the current landscape, it’s hopefully the perfect opportunity for them to purchase them on our new online shop we have set up with Elite Pro Sports.
“We are excited to unveil further items which will be on sale in the near future and encourage supporters to get their replicas quickly with a limited stock on sale.”
BATLEY BULLDOGS will not return to pre-season training in November due to new lockdown restrictions, according to their Head Coach Craig Lingard.
New guidelines were introduced on Thursday nationwide, and while the Bulldogs are able to open their gym as they qualify as ‘elite sport’, the club have decided to leave it up to the players whether they use it or continue to train at home.
“We are not planning on starting officially for pre-season. We have been opening the gym up for the players that want to come in on a voluntary basis,” Lingard told Batley & Birstall News.
“We have decided to leave it up to the players – which is what we have been doing – to come in on a voluntary basis.
“With the furlough scheme still going on and not being able to start training three times a week, we thought it best to leave it to the players. The lockdown has pushed everything back for us.”
OLDHAM have signed a fourth Wigan Warriors youngster in Oldham-born James Barran, who has spent time on loan at Leigh Centurions, London Skolars and Rochdale Hornets.
“James is a talented kid, who needs to be playing at a higher level so as to challenge himself,” head coach Matt Diskin said about the 22-year-old back.
“He will undoubtedly add significantly to what is already a strong-looking squad with a nice mix of experience and youth – and he will provide much-needed competition for the half-backs,
“I’m really pleased to sign James and the other young lads who have come through the Wigan system and I’m looking forward to working with them in pre-season and to seeing how they go.”
Barran joins ex-Warriors team mates Ben Holcroft (19), Max Roberts (20) and Callum Green (21) at the club, with all four looking to make a successful transition to Championship Rugby.
WHITEHAVEN fans favourite Jessie Joe Parker has become the latest Whitehaven player to commit to the club ahead of the 2021 season.
The 35-year-old former Papua New Guinean international centre has signed up for his tenth season with the Cumbrian outfit and is hoping for a big year.
“I enjoy it at Whitehaven,” said Parker, who first joined the club in 2012 and has gone on to score 94 tries in 186 games for them.
“I’m delighted to have signed again and I am looking forward to playing some rugby again.
“We are putting together a good squad for next season and it is exciting. I just want to get back training with the lads and hopefully get a testimonial this season.”
Head coach Gary Charlton added: “Jessie is a firm fans favourite and he has been good for Whitehaven over a number of years.
“He has plenty of experience, which he brings to the squad, and adds more competition for our back line.
“I’m pleased to see him sign again.”
SWINTON LIONS Head Coach Stuart Littler believes his side can hit the ground running when the Championship begins in spring 2021 if the RFL’s plans are realised.
The governing body revealed their ambitions last week to begin the season, with out without fans, before Easter in 2021.
“The lads have never had this period of time off,” Littler said.
“You usually get a six to eight week break at the end of the season.
“It’s about getting our bodies back, ready for a full season and the challenges that brings for the boys with the fitness levels and getting back to contact.
“We’ll have to drip feed that in slowly, you can’t go straight in at 100 miles an hour otherwise we’ll have a lot of injuries. We’ll use whatever tools we can to provide the best platform for the boys and hopefully hit the ground running.”
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