With ALEX DAVIS, LORRAINE MARSDEN & MATTHEW SHAW
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS chief executive Davide Longo has aid the club will work with the players to decide on the best approach to increasing training should they be successful in their bid to become the 12th Super League team in 2021.
Longo has admitted a switch to a full-time model would be unlikely, instead they will look to find the perfect hybrid that best suits everyone.
“Our players all have jobs as well so, if we do get the nod, we don’t want to be sacrificing people’s employment for a potential 12-month window of opportunity,” said Longo.
“We’ll talk to the players and look at a few different versions of how we can get more contact time with them.
“In a full time environment there is probably around 20 hours of contact time a week, and maybe only eight with part time players. So it will be about finding a way to increase the time we have with players.
“It won’t be like at some Super League clubs where players are in at seven or eight in the morning and are done by one in the afternoon, we might have to do it where we have them in for longer on an evening.
“But we’ll work whatever we need to do around the players’ work schedules.
“We have got to be mindful that we can’t just take players out of employment for 12 months and then all of a sudden things change again. That would be reckless of us as a club and it wouldn’t support the well-being of the players going forward.
“The players are fully aware that once we get a decision, and if it is a positive decision then these conversations will take place.”
SWINTON LIONS have appointed director Stuart Fletcher as the new club Chairman.
Fletcher has been a regular sponsor and club benefactor of the Lions and has a professional background as a senior officer in a government law department.
“It is a great honour to be appointed Chairman of our historic club.
“I attended my first Swinton game in 1969 and feel so proud to be able to lead the Lions on this exciting journey as we establish ourselves as a positive, outward looking club within the rugby league community.
“I do not take lightly the responsibility that comes with the role. I can assure everyone connected with Swinton Lions that I am 100% committed to the growth of the club and to building on our great history and heritage.
“The game is changing on and off the field and I will ensure that we are not complacent, but rather in a strong position to meet the challenges ahead.
“We are currently in the middle of a significant process of engagement with the RFL, our governing body, through which we intend to outline our strategic vision.
“Our intention is to demonstrate to the rugby league community that Swinton Lions is a club with significant ambition.
“This marvellous club belongs to us all and as Chairman I want to be seen as approachable and transparent.”
Meanwhile, the club have announced their renewed affiliation with Manchester’s Wood Street Mission charity.
The charity work to help disadvantaged children and their families in the local area and the Lions will host a charity day alongside one of their home fixtures in 2021 as part of their link with the charity.
BATLEY BULLDOGS Chairman Kevin Nicholas has revealed that the club have missed out on their initial target for the replacement for Keegan Hirst.
The Bulldogs have been on the lookout after Hirst announced his retirement from Rugby League despite being set to join Batley for 2021 and while a deal has fallen through for one player, the West Yorkshire side are eyeing up another.
“We did have a target to replace Keegan (Hirst) but that has fallen through,” Nicholas said.
“He was going to come on loan for a year from a Super League club but it appears he is going to stay there now for the time being.
“We can’t hang about and wait so we have another target lined up, another prop and we’ll see if we can get that over the line now. We are working on it to fill that last vacancy.”
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have teamed up with the Batley Sporting Charitable Trust on a toy appeal heading into the Christmas period.
Batley are looking for donations of new toys for children of primary school age and any donations can be dropped off at the door to the community gym building on Heritage Road between 8am and 9am on the 3rd, 8th, 10th and 15th December or by prior arrangement with the community team.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS coach and former star of TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE Trent Robinson has put his weight behind the French side’s bid for Super League in 2021.
Toulouse’s bid has been publicly endorsed by countless people and organisations, including the city’s mayor. But now Robinson, who has won three NRL Grand Finals with the Roosters has called for them to placed in Super League next year.
“Toulouse have been preparing themselves for decades for this,” he said.
“They’ve got a strong foundation as a city of business and also of sport. They’ve been seen to push the limits of business and sport and it’s time for Rugby League to feel the impact of Toulouse.
“The town, the people, the supporters have soul. They’re a proud people who love their Rugby League and I know that will be a benefit for the Super League.
“They are ready to expand Rugby League in the northern hemisphere.”
OLDHAM coach Matt Diskin has revealed he has made a number of changes to his backroom staff to allow for a different system of training ahead of the new season.
With numerous Covid restrictions still in place, Oldham will have to change what they work on in their group training time and a change of staff has reflected that.
Strength and conditioner Tim Abeyie has moved on, while prop forward Jode Sheriffe has signed a new one-year contract that will see him take an assistant coach role alongside continuing his playing career.
“We are having to make changes because of Covid rules and regulations and the fact we don’t have our own training facilities like a lot of other clubs,” said Diskin.
“Government protocol means we can’t use an off-site gym so as things stand at present we’ve had to make significant changes and put a new structure in place.
“It’s one I’ve been familiar with in the past and it involves putting players on trust to work on things from home so that we can spend our time together differently and within Government guidelines.
“With that in mind we’ve added Jode to the coaching team and parted company with Tim, thanking him for his efforts and wishing him all the best for the future.
“Jode has got a wealth of experience and he’s at the stage of his career where he has to manage his body a bit more than younger players and start to think about his future.
“He’ll be coming on board not only as a player, but to work alongside Brendan and I to give our younger players the benefit of everything he has learned in all his years in the game.”
Sheriffe is hoping to be fit for a return once the season gets underway after suffering a knee injury in the last pre-season. He is due to undergo surgery later this year.
WIDNES VIKINGS coach Simon Finnigan admits he will not be making any bold predictions about what his side can achieve in 2021.
Instead he knows that as long as he can get his players performing at their best every week, they will reap whatever rewards they earn.
“I’m never one to be able to say where we’ll finish and what we’ll do,” said Finnigan.
“My job will be to make the players better and get a little bit more out of them. With the squad I have got and the staff I have around me I am confident I can do that.
“Where we end up is always hard to predict, but I have a really good squad and I am really excited by that.
“If I can get the players playing a little bit better than they have been then we should have a good season and where we end up will take care of itself.”
DEWSBURY RAMS‘ have signed highly-rated hooker Reiss Butterworth from Huddersfield Giants.
The 21 year-old came through the ranks at Bradford Bulls before joining the Giants ahead of the 2019 season, where he made his Super League debut earlier this year. He has also had spells on loan at Batley Bulldogs, Castleford Tigers and York City Knight, but has joined the Rams looking for more regular first-team rugby.
“I just want the opportunity to play games week in week out, it would be massive for me and my development as a player,” said Butterworth.
“I want to learn off the coaching staff and the experience within the squad like Liam Finn and Paul Sykes.
“I want to train hard in pre-season to give me the best chance to hit the ground running in 2021 and to hopefully play as many games as I can and with the squad we’ve got to really achieve something.
“I can’t wait to pull on the shirt, it’s such a tough and physical competition, it will help me develop my game so much to playing at such a high standard.”
WHITEHAVEN have welcomed two of their new overseas signings to the Recreation Ground after Nikau Williams and Lachlan Walmsley arrived in the country last week.
The duo were quick to take a look around their new surroundings and are both eager to get their careers in the British game underway.
“I’m looking forward to ripping in with the boys and learning more about the club,” said scrum half Nikau.
“I’m really keen to get in and get started.”
Utility player Walmsley added: “It’s good to be here. It’s looks to be a good standard here with good training equipment everywhere so I can’t wait to get into it and meet everyone.”
YORK CITY KNIGHTS Coach James Ford believes his side’s journey isn’t complete until they make it into Super League.
The City Knights are one of the clubs who are bidding for the 12th position in the top division and Ford knows just how far his side have come in a short space of time.
“The club was pretty much on its knees in 2016 when the new owners came in,” Ford told the York Press.
“We’ve gone from having no players and playing in amateur – but nice – grounds in front of a few hundred people to being the first side to beat Toronto, finishing above Bradford Bulls, finishing third in the Championship, and being the highest-ranked English, part-time side outside of Super League on a sensible but moderate budget.
“Now we’re on the cusp of Super League.
“What a journey it would be to win this application process and be able to continue writing the next chapter fighting against the likes of Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers.
“I think it would give hope for everybody else in the lower leagues that clubs can change their fortunes with some hard work and a little bit of fortune here and there.”
Meanwhile, the club have announced a partnership with Yorkshire’s internationally renowned tourism agency, Welcome to Yorkshire.
The brand will appear on the collar of the Knights’ playing kits.
HALIFAX have re-signed Paul Brearley on a one-year deal after his move to Toronto Wolfpack for 2021 fell through due to their rejected application to Super League next year.
Brearley was set to join the Wolfpack from Halifax but the forward is now set to stay in West Yorkshire.
“Paul went under the radar this time last year as a bit of an unknown to our fans, but impressed in the little time we had, Halifax coach, Simon Grix said.
“Obviously he had opted to have a crack at Super League with Toronto, but it hasn’t worked out so we welcome him back to pick up where he left off.
“He was gaining in confidence and is a pleasure to coach in a sense that he was going out and applying what we had worked on.
“Rugby aside he’s a good bloke, I’m sure the lads will be happy to see him back alongside them.”
SHEFFIELD EAGLES have revealed their away shirt design meaning they now have both shirts on sale ahead of Christmas.
The kit reflects the city of Sheffield with the steel design with marl effect and black trim.
“It’s great to not just unveil the 2021 Away Kit but also have it on-sale in ample time for Christmas,” Eagles General Manager, Liam Claffey, said after the release of the shirt.
“This is I think the earliest we’ve had both kits on-sale ahead of the holidays!
“Our supporters have really assisted the club during what has been a testing year for everyone, and we would love them to continue that support and get their hands on the replicas launched.
“We have a great relationship with the team at Elite Pro Sports, they’ve come up with some great designs from the brief.
“Supporters will have to wait until the New Year for more items to appear but there will be plenty of merchandise for supporters to purchase throughout 2021 and beyond with some exciting plans in the pipeline for further kits and off-field ranges.”
LEIGH CENTURIONS are set to reveal the design of their home kit in the near future.
The club have been revamping their retail unit in recent weeks and it is set to re-open on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Centurions have donated £10,000 to ‘The Bridge’ charity who have stepped in to fill the void of Wish FM, who ran a toy appeal. The charity are aiming to combine this with food parcels for those in need during the festive period.
“The club relies on the support of its fans in the local community and is a pillar of that community. It is only right that during these difficult and unprecedented times heading into the festive period that we support the wider community that may be facing difficulties,” Leigh owner Derek Beaumont said.
“Having previously recognised the good work of The Bridge and their knowledge of the local community it seemed the ideal resource to again partner with to facilitate the project and we are extremely grateful for the fine work that they do.”
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