Betfred Championship news round up

Brandon Moore has signed a new two-year contract with HALIFAX PANTHERS, who have beaten off interest from a number of Super League clubs to secure his services.
Moore, who spent part of 2020 on loan in Super League with Huddersfield Giants will now enter his sixth season as a Halifax player after joining from Castleford Tigers in 2015.
Since breaking into the ‘Fax side, the hooker has become a consistent performer picking up several Player of the Year awards.
“This is very positive news and we are really happy Brandon, after receiving interest from Super League clubs, has decided to further commit to the club,” Panthers coach Simon Grix said.
“From a rugby perspective, I feel he has benefited greatly from his loan spell with the Giants, returning with confidence and no doubt some satisfaction after some eye-catching performances.”
“Brandon has been a stand out in recent years but still has improvements to make and the extension affords us time for that to happen here with the Panthers.”
Moore himself is excited about the next chapter in his Panthers career.
“Coming into my sixth season with the club it gives me a real sense of security and I can fully focus on the year ahead. I am really excited about the current team we have building here at the moment.”
“The recruitment coming into this year adding to the quality we already have within the team gives us some real confidence going into the new season.”

YORK CITY KNIGHTS have signed experienced Super League winger Ben Jones-Bishop on a one-year deal.
Jones-Bishop, who has featured internationally for Jamaica, signs for the City Knights after spending five seasons with Wakefield Trinity.
“I’m very proud to bring Ben to York, his track record as a player and a person are unquestionable,” City Knights coach, James Ford, said.
“Ben brings an outstanding level of threat to an already talented squad, he also brings with him heaps of experience and leadership.
“Ben has displayed an immense amount of resilience and drive to come back from some serious adversity, I’m confident he will fit in well and further supplement our culture.”
Meanwhile, Jones-Bishop himself is excited for the challenges ahead with York as the World Cup gets ever closer.
“I’m delighted to sign for the Knights, I’m looking forward to pulling on the shirt of an ambitious club, and I’m excited about the challenge ahead.
“The last 18 months have been good for me mentally. After being out for a long time I had a chance to reflect on things, and I wanted the opportunity for a new challenge and to see what was out there. I thought when I came back last season my performances showed I still have plenty to offer.”
“Hopefully I can have a strong season and have a positive impact on the team, and earn a place for Jamaica at the World Cup. There are two games in Leeds and there’s a big Caribbean community in West Yorkshire, so hopefully, spectators will be back by then and it’ll be a vibrant atmosphere.
“The domestic game in Jamaica is getting stronger all the time, you can see that when the boys from there come over. They’re playing at a higher standard, and it would be great to be involved with them in a World Cup.”

SWINTON LIONS have decided to suspend the production of season tickets until the 2022 season.
It is still not known if or when crowds will be allowed back into Championship stadiums this year and the Lions have taken the decision to only allow entry on a match-by-match basis when crowds are eventually allowed back into stadiums.
“We feel it is unfair to expect loyal supporters to pay out another lump sum to the club, especially so soon after 93% of our existing season ticket holders had kindly donated their 2020 purchase,” a statement said.
“Covid-19 has severely impacted upon all our lives, and we are mindful that a large purchase such as a season ticket might currently be problematic for some of our supporters.
“Due to Covid-19, there is currently the strong possibility that some of our initial home games will be played behind closed doors. We therefore feel it is unfair to charge our supporters for matches for which we currently cannot guarantee entry.
“Knowing the tremendous loyalty of our fans, we are hopeful that there will be a desire to support the team at every possible home game anyway, regardless as to whether or not a season ticket is held. Therefore hopefully any negative financial impact for the club will be minimised when taking into account the full course of the season.”
Also last week the club mourned the passing of Dave Nicholson who made his Swinton debut in 1979, playing 31 times for the club before moving to Oldham.

WHITEHAVEN coach Gary Charlton confirmed that his squad was complete and that it was unlikely there would be any more incomings.
‘Haven have brought in a succession of stars from abroad including the likes of Ryan King, Lachlan Walmsley and Nikau Williams and Charlton is now happy with the direction in which the squad is heading.
“We’re about done there,” Charlton told League Express when asked about recruitment.
“I’d be very surprised if we brought anyone else in.
“Our conditioning man is really happy with the way in which they’re travelling at present.”
Meanwhile, the club’s chairman believes the club are ready to tackle the season despite the financial issues of playing behind closed doors.
“Everybody can’t wait, even the players themselves, they’re all eager to get going,” Tommy Todd told Whitehaven News.
“But we’ve all just got to do our part for the general good. Everybody would like to get back to rugby but it’s health and safety of the fans and players that’s important.
“It seems to be going the way of behind closed doors, that is a major issue for Whitehaven and I would imagine a lot of Championship clubs.”

WIDNES VIKINGS youngster Lewis Else has agreed a new one-year deal with the club ahead of the 2021 Championship season.
The halfback, 20, who made his first-team debut away at Dewsbury in 2019, began his time with the club at the of 15 and is delighted with his new deal.
“It feels great to have been given a chance and have some faith shown in me,” he said.
“I’m hoping to repay some of that faith once the season gets underway.
“I’ve had some really frustrating and tough times through injuries, but the cancellation of the season last year and the rest we had during that has benefited me, not only physically but mentally. I had time to work on my injuries and I’m looking forward to putting some hard work in and using the bad times as fuel on the pitch in 2021.”
The Vikings are set to return to training today (Monday) and Else admits he enjoyed the first section of Widnes’ pre-season pre-lockdown.
“It was good to get back training and with the boys after being out injured and then the lockdown. Simon has been great with me and spent some time with me one-on-one and is helping to build some confidence back from being out, we haven’t been able to work on the defensive side yet but he is improving me going forward.
“My aim for 2021 is to get some game time under my belt and just see where that takes me. Being on the pitch instead of the physio room will be a huge boost. I’m massively looking forward to rugby starting again and getting on the field with the boys and enjoying my rugby again.”
Meanwhile, Widnes have promoted four members of last year’s reserve squad into their 2021 first-team.
Oliver Brookes, Will Tilleke, Josh Wilde and Daniel Hill will all be part of the first-team heading into the new season.
Brookes, a winger, featured in a pre-season friendly away at Rochdale last year alongside back-row forward Wilde who scored in that game at the Crown Oil Arena.
Prop Tilleke and fullback Hill have both impressed through the Vikings’ academy set up before progressing into the reserves.

SHEFFIELD EAGLES and the city of Sheffield received a major boost with the news that the Eagles’ 3,900-capacity stadium is set to be open by February 2022.
The stadium, part of the city’s Olympic Legacy Park was originally set to open last year but the plans have been halted due to a raft of different reasons, most recently the Covid-19 pandemic, but these plans are hoped to create 5,000 jobs and give the city a boost of £250m.
“The Park plans to play a significant role in the post-pandemic and post-Brexit economy of the Sheffield City Region and positively impact the Government’s levelling-up agenda,” a spokesman for the Olympic Legacy Park said.
Meanwhile, former Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, said the plans extended the legacy of the London Olympic Games from 2012.
“Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is building on its legacy of being one of the world’s most successful elite athlete training facilities – including Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Nicola Adams OBE, Will Bayley MBE and Anthony Joshua OBE – and becoming a world-class centre of applied research and development to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing.”

New TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE signing Rémi Casty has admitted he may be tempted to return to the French ranks for the coming World Cup competition, after retiring from international duty two years ago to focus on his Super League career.
Casty joins the Championship side after his release from Catalans Dragons but the drop down in division is unlikely to harm his international credentials.
“Why not?” He said when asked about an international return.
“I still feel strong enough and if my performances are good enough of course I would like to have one last challenge in the French jersey. The World Cup is the ultimate for all players and it would be the best way to finish your international career.”

LONDON BRONCOS captain Will Lovell is enjoying the very different pre-season in the capital.
With Covid-19 regulations in place throughout the competition as all clubs begin their pre-season training, Lovell knows how privileged he and his teammates are to be training currently.
“It’s been awesome to get back to some kind of normality and training in our small groups at Rosslyn Park,” he said.
“All of us know how fortunate we are to be allowed to train as elite athletes, unlike some of our fans who have really suffered since last March, so we try to keep that in mind and take advantage of being able to work in small groups in this Stage 1 training and make the most of the chance to get together.
“It’s certainly different, you only get to see the people in your group of course, but it’s really good to be getting some time to pick the coaching staffs brains with the one to one stuff and work on individual aspects of our game. This is not only a massive plus for the younger lads but also us experienced players and something you probably wouldn’t normally be able to do.”
Meanwhile, the club has revealed both the home and away first-team kits this week produced by APX Sports.

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS CEO Davide Longo believes all Championship clubs should be able to afford to play the majority of the season behind closed doors if needed.
The season now has a confirmed start date with the Championship set to return in April when crowds are highly unlikely to be allowed. But Longo insists that is possible for them and other Championship clubs to play without fans providing them income.
“All the clubs have agreed we are absolutely set now on behind-closed-doors fixtures and for perhaps longer than we anticipated as that’s looking likely it could go possibly out to May or June now,” Longo told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“But we’ve all said that if that is the case we’ll have to do it and find a way to do it. Most clubs have had significant help from Government and local authorities so we should all have a bit of surplus money in our accounts to cut across if that does happen.
“We’ve all pretty much been on furlough. Our staff now are on part-time furlough and a lot have been for some time. If clubs have accessed the funding out there, they should have some surplus funds in their bank accounts.
“Obviously, we’ve got lucky now with the PCR testing being switched to lateral flow as that significantly reduces those costs.
“It’s gone from £75 per person – about £5,000 per month – last year to £4 per person or around £160 per month, now £320 per month that we’re getting tested twice per week. That was probably the main reason for clubs to not even consider getting back playing last year; £5,000 per month into your cashflow just for testing was a substantial amount.
Elsewhere, the club has announced that the Featherstone Rovers archive site is now live online as part of the club’s centenary celebrations.
“The site contains a record of every game played by Rovers since August 1921 (more than 3,600), biographies of every player who has ever played for the Rovers first team (more than 1,100), as well as an extensive programme collection and photograph library, along with a wealth of other material. The aim is for this site to be one of the most comprehensive of its type in the rugby league world,” a statement on Rovers’ website said.
“The website is the fruit of years of planning and preparation by Stephen Parker and Mark Kirby, but draws heavily on research, donations and work undertaken by numerous people over the decades who have helped tell the story of Featherstone Rovers. Particular thanks go to Irvin Saxton and Ron Bailey, as well as Ian Clayton who have all given kind permission to use their published work on the site.
“This is very much an ongoing project, so they are looking for your help too. If you have any information to add about any of Featherstone Rovers’ players, or if you have any photographs, programmes or other material that are not yet on the site, please contact them by email to or on the Featherstone Rovers Heritage Society Facebook page. If you can help them with the momentous task of adding thousands of match reports to the site, they would be happy to hear from you.”

BRADFORD BULLS coach John Kear has explained how the Bulls’ return to training has worked.
All Championship clubs are having to adapt to the new Covid-19 rules although today marks the day when stage two of training starts, allowing clubs to practice contact training.
“We spend our Tuesdays and Thursdays down at Avenue (Horsfall Stadium),” Kear told the Telegraph and Argus.
“Players have got weight training to do, and many of them have their own equipment, which is ideal (given sanitising rules etc).
“Everyone, players and staff, gets tested for the virus at Tong (the club’s regular base) on a Tuesday before going down to Horsfall if everything’s okay.
“That’s all Tong is being used for at the moment, but we’ve been told we can do weights sessions in the gym there at the start of February, it’s just not possible at the moment because you need spotters and we can’t with the current social distancing restrictions we have in place.
“From February, we should be able to have an extra training and extra testing session too.”

OLDHAM Chairman Chris Hamilton has backed Oldham’s decision to re-sign the reinstated Danny Bridge.
Bridge, who is now allowed to continue his Rugby League career after his ban for taking recreational drugs was reduced, has signed a new one-year contract with the club after playing his last game in February against Whitehaven.
“Danny is a very talented player, who made a big mistake and paid the price,” Hamilton said.
“What this has done, though, is to allow him to deal with issues outside the game. He got a lot of support and help and, hopefully, that will put him back on track.
“He now has an opportunity to fully embrace and to take advantage of the second chance he has been given.”

BATLEY BULLDOGS coach Craig Lingard gave an update as his squad returned to training over the last couple of weeks.
The Bulldogs like most sides in the Championship decided to restart training in star one plus with testing taking place each week.
“We’ve trained this week and the testing process is in place,” Lingard said.
“Our medical staff have done a lot of work behind the scenes to get us up and running.
“Hopefully we can continue that and keep training and get back on the field come 21st March which I think is the date confirmed for the first game back.
“The squad are back looking fit and ready and eager to get back playing which all bodes well for a good season.
“Hopefully there are no more setbacks so we can get out there playing as soon as possible.”

Hundreds of people have signed a petition against the construction of a new housing estate at Shaw Cross, opposite DEWSBURY RAMS‘ Tetley’s Stadium.
Kirklees Council is set to give the go-ahead for the site as well as a new McDonald’s nearby but petition organiser, Claire Thistleton told the Dewsbury Reporter that there is no need for new housing in the area around the stadium.
“The area is already over-developed with houses near the stadium, the roads are stretched at peak times,” she said.
The council’s plans for the site also include £200,000 towards junctions improvements at Shaw Cross.

NEWCASTLE THUNDER star Bob Beswick led a free online workout yesterday (Sunday).
Beswick, who as well as playing for Thunder is a personal trainer with his own company, BB Performance, performed the online body workout with all ages and abilities present.
The hooker joined Thunder ahead of 2020 after making his professional debut in 2004 with Wigan Warriors.
He has also featured for Widnes, Halifax, Leigh and Toronto in his long career.

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