Betfred Championship news round up

WIDNES VIKINGS have landed Workington winger Brad Holroyd, continuing a signings spree which has been long in the planning according to coach Simon Finnigan.
The 21-year-old, who scored 18 tries for the League 1 promotion winners, including one in the 36-12 final victory over Doncaster, is the tenth new face added to the Vikings squad.
Finnigan, who is nearing the first anniversary of his appointment in succession to Tim Sheens, is seeking a big improvement on an eighth-placed finish this year.
And the former Newcastle chief, whose side struggled for consistency, believes he will have a better balance of players going into 2022.
“Like all clubs, we had a number of injuries, which you have to accept, but we have tried to ensure we have the right numbers in the right places,” he explained.
“We’ve signed a fair few forwards, because that was one area where we we were quite significantly affected at times.
“We have also brought in some versatility, which will help, and with the players we have retained, I’m pleased with the business we’ve done.
“There have been a lot of announcements in a fairly short period of time, but our planning goes back a long way, and as soon as we could talk to people, we were doing.”
Ex-England Lions Under 19 and Leigh East player Holroyd joined Leigh in early 2019 and spent time with the St Helens Academy side to aid his development.
He was loaned to Rochdale in 2020, joining Workington ahead of this season, when he earned a nomination as League 1 Young Player of the Year.
Finnigan added: “We’ve been tracking Ben for a long time, and it was great to see him flourish at Workington, who have had a really good season.
“He’s obviously a try-scorer, which fans love to see, but there’s a lot more to his game.”
Meanwhile, centre Joe Edge has signed a one-year contract extension.

NEWCASTLE THUNDER coach Eamon O’Carroll reckons the club have landed top-quality recruits in the form of Featherstone duo Brad Day and Thomas Minns and Leigh’s Craig Mullen.
The trio were introduced to fans at a special event at Kingston Park hosted by O’Carroll and director of rugby Denis Betts as ambitious Thunder prepare to go full-time next month.
Ex-Castleford and Batley secondrow Day, 27, former Leeds and Hull KR threequarter Minns, 27, and Wigan product and fullback Mullen, 23, who moved to Leigh head of their Super League campaign this year, join Castleford backrow Alex Foster in a new-look Newcastle squad which will also include Tonga international forward Ukuma Ta’ai, who moved from Huddersfield in February.
Thunder have also handed a professional contract to 18-year-old Academy prop Jake Anderson, a Gateshead Storm product who impressed in four first-team appearances this year, when Newcastle finished eleventh after their elevation from League 1 through a bidding process.
“Brad Day brings strike on an edge, is competitive and will add some real threat,” said O’Carroll. “He can really excite fans and he gives us some good experience and some skill.
“Tom Minns brings a different dynamic and I’m really looking forward to working with him. He is a resilient character and is really passionate about coming here and making this club his own.
“Craig Mullen is a versatile player and that is something that has probably been unfortunate for him in that whatever position you put him in, he does a really good job.
“He is coming here as our number-one fullback and that excites both him and me. He is a smart player. He organises the defensive line and has a high level of skill which is going to complement our edges.
“Jake Anderson was fantastic this year and had he not got an injury, he would have played more games. I’m excited to work with him further.”

YORK CITY KNIGHTS coach James Ford believes he has added both tenacity and experience to his pack by landing Leigh backrow Jordan Thompson and Hull prop Masi Matongo.
Also winging his way to the City Knights is Will Oakes, the Dewsbury wideman who has Super League experience with Hull KR.
The ambitious club completed another deal by bringing in Sheffield centre James Glover, while prop Ronan Dixon is the latest existing squad member to sign a contract extension.
Thompson, 30, began his professional career with five years at Castleford, who loaned him to York in 2011, before spending four at Hull, from whom he joined Leigh in 2018.
He had a loan spell at Leeds before rejoining Hull in 2019, only to re-sign for Leigh midway through that campaign.
“Jordy is a very competitive player with an outstanding skill set for a middle. He will add a significant amount of tenacity to our team,” said Ford.
Matongo, 25, has made more than 50 appearances for Hull and Ford explained: “He’s a big strong player who will help us win control defensively.”
Scotland international Oakes, 22, had spells at York on both dual registration and loan during his five-season stint at Hull KR.
The former England Academy international joined Dewsbury ahead of this season after a loan stint last year.
“Will is still young with lots of room for growth,” explained Ford. “He’s played Super league with Hull KR and is very keen to get back to those levels and beyond.”
Glover, 27, has caught the eye over three seasons at Sheffield after signing from Dewsbury.
Ford said: “James has great attacking anticipation and understands how to create space for his winger.”
Former Wakefield junior Dixon, 24, is the longest-serving player at York, having made his debut in 2017, and has played 73 times for them in all.
“I’m sure he’ll continue to develop as his attitude towards hard work and feedback is excellent,” added Ford.

DEWSBURY RAMS have signed two new halfbacks – Matty Beharrell from Doncaster and Jake Sweeting from Featherstone – having operated with one of the most seasoned partnerships around in Paul Sykes and Liam Finn, who has retired.
Beharrell, 27, brings plenty of experience, having started out at Hull KR and also played for Newcastle, Swinton and Keighley before joining Doncaster in 2018.
And Sweeting’s move completes a highly eventful year for the 21-year-old.
Amazingly, he featured for five different clubs in all three divisions, and played both at Wembley and in the League 1 play-off final.
Sweeting’s outing alongside Beharrell in Doncaster’s 36-12 defeat at Workington came after he landed a last-gasp touchline conversion to seal the dramatic 28-26 preliminary final win at Keighley.
His stint at Doncaster came after loans to Hunslet, York – against whom he then played in Featherstone’s 41-34 1895 Cup final success at the national stadium – and Castleford, from whom he joined Rovers ahead of the 2020 season.
He finally made his Tigers debut, and scored a try, in the 34-16 home defeat by Huddersfield in August as Daryl Powell contended with a Covid outbreak.
Sweeting enjoyed a run of games at Doncaster, and feels it did him good.
“It was really good for me to play in those big matches,” he said.
“There is never an easy game in the Championship, so hopefully the play-off experience will stand me in good stead.
“It was an easy decision to come on board. (Coach) Lee Greenwood has a vision of where he sees the club and what we can achieve, and hopefully I can play a big part in that.”
Greenwood said: “Jake covers all the pivotal positions well. Everyone I have spoken to talks very highly of him. I’m looking forward to seeing him pull on the shirt.
“And Matty Beharrell is a quality player, organiser and leader.”
Rams winger Will Oakes has joined York.

LONDON BRONCOS coach Jermaine Coleman is mixing Sydney, South Yorkshire and the South of England as he continues to build his squad.
He will be able to call on experienced Australians Rhys Curran and Dean Parata, France and Italy internationals respectively and secondrow Brad Foster, freshly signed from Doncaster, as well as homegrown products Will Blakemore, Oli Leyland and Rob Oakley after another burst of business by the capital club.
Former Wests Tigers development player Curran, 32, who had five years at Toulouse before joining the Broncos in 2020, has agreed a one-year contract extension which includes a move into coaching for the backrow.
He has trained as an electrician and will also work in that trade following the Broncos’ switch to part-time status.
London have raised a few eyebrows by luring Parata, the 30-year-old hooker or halfback who is fresh from playing for Featherstone in the Million Pound Game, on a two-year deal.
Like Curran, Parata was in the Wests Tigers system before playing for Wentworthville Magpies and Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles, feeder teams for Parramatta and Manly respectively, before moving to the UK with Barrow.
He played alongside Curran at Toulouse before joining Featherstone in 2020 and will contest the hooking role with fellow new arrival Dec O’Donnell, the Ireland international who has signed from Workington on two-year terms.
“Dean is a great player and has a lot of experience and big-game mentality to bring,” explained Coleman. “He has good energy and plays at high tempo, so will suit us.
“Rhys also has a wealth of experience and we will be using that to the maximum. He plays the game tough and executes his role expertly.”
Former Dewsbury and Hunslet player Foster, 26, played for Doncaster in their 36-12 League 1 play-off final defeat by a Workington side featuring O’Donnell.
Blakemore is a prop from Chelmsford, Leyland a halfback from Maidstone and Oakley a hooker from Colchester.

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS have snapped up Bradford back Brandon Pickersgill, York playmaker Morgan Smith and Leigh secondrow Ben Hellewell as they plot a fresh promotion bid.
News of the new signings came amid the departure of coach James Webster by mutual consent less than a fortnight after defeat by Toulouse in the Million Pound Game, with Brian McDermott set to take a role at the club.
Pickersgill, 24, had a stand-out campaign at fullback for the Bulls but can also operate in the threequarters and halves.
After playing for Stanningley and Shaw Cross at junior level, he came through the Bradford Academy and broke into the first team in 2017, when he had a loan spell at London Skolars.
Pickersgill came to the fore the following year, scoring eleven tries as his side won promotion from League 1.
Nine tries in 21 outings in all competitions in 2019 showed he was comfortable at Championship level.
This year, Pickersgill picked up nine tries in 19 appearances, taking his overall Bradford tally to 23 in 55.
He missed the final three matches through a back injury, damaging Bradford’s play-off chances (they were beaten 23-10 at Batley in their elimination tie).
Featherstone football manager Ian Hardman said: “We believe this is a strong signing.
“Brandon has been one of the best young performers at this level for some time and we feel his development will reach another level.”
Former Warrington and London Broncos player Smith, 23, is raring to go after missing the whole of this season with an anterior cruciate ligament problem, meaning he didn’t play a game for the City Knights.
It’s a second spell at Rovers for 29-year-old Hellewell, who was at the club in 2013 and 2014 in between stints at Warrington and London Broncos.
He joined Leigh in 2020 after a loan spell at Sheffield the year before.
Halfback Jake Sweeting has left Rovers after two seasons to join divisional rivals Dewsbury.

OLDHAM coach Stuart Littler says experienced halfback Martyn Ridyard will be his voice on the pitch as the Roughyeds target a quick return to the Championship.
The pair who were once teammates at Leigh, where Ridyard had two spells and eleven years in all, were in tandem at Swinton before Littler’s departure in July.
Having brought Ridyard to the Lions a year ago, Littler has again swooped for the former Featherstone man, 35.
Relegated Oldham have also signed Keighley prop Jack Coventry, Hunslet back Will Cooke and former Huddersfield Reserves secondrow Callum Cameron as well as agreeing contract extensions with prop Luke Nelmes and halfback Dave Hewitt.
That has reassured supporters after the departure of a number of players.
Ireland coach Littler, appointed by Oldham early last month, reckons Ridyard will play a key role in a relatively young side.
“He will be my voice out there,” he explained. “I saw quite a bit of Oldham last year and I’m sure Martyn’s knowledge, experience and ability will help me to educate the side in how to play an attacking and entertaining brand of Rugby League. He’ll be on the pitch, I won’t.”
Swinton had been hopeful of retaining Ridyard, who had a loan spell in Super League with Huddersfield in 2017 and has made more than 300 career appearances, topping 90 tries and 980 goals.
Ridyard said: “Stu and I go back a long way. We are firm friends. He got me to Swinton last year and got me enjoying my rugby again.
“It was a period of great change, involving going from full-time rugby to part-time, but to be honest, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
“I’m back working as a roofer, and loving it. Playing part-time is very demanding, but you can divide your life into three – home and family, day job and rugby – and if you get the balance right, it’s great.”

HALIFAX PANTHERS coach Simon Grix says Brad Knowles will bring plenty of controlled aggression to his forward pack next season.
The Panthers have snapped up the 28-year-old after he spent the last three years with Sheffield, helping them win the inaugural 1895 Cup at Wembley in 2019.
Before that, the no-nonsense Pontefract-born player featured for four seasons at Featherstone.
“I’ll do my best to add something to an already-strong squad. Some great additions have been made and I can’t wait to compete for my spot,” he said.
Grix, whose side reached the play-off semi-finals, added: “Brad is a seasoned Championship player, known for his aggressive approach.
“He enjoys the physical battles and will add something a bit different to our stock of middle players.
“I must say I admire his desire to come and challenge himself where he could have been comfortable elsewhere.”
Halifax have also signed powerful former Wakefield prop Titus Gwaze, 22, after he spent the 2021 campaign at London Broncos and agreed a contract extension with forward Elliot Morris.

BRADFORD BULLS have landed an Eagle in Sheffield’s Ryan Millar while his fellow winger Matty Dawson-Jones will be back in the Bulls squad next season after agreeing a contract extension.
Pace merchant Millar, 27, has signed a two-year deal after spending seven years with the South Yorkshire side.
Meanwhile 31-year-old former Super League player Dawson-Jones will be aiming to put three years of frustration behind him.
The former Huddersfield, St Helens and Leigh man joined the Bulls for the 2020 campaign after a season at Hull which was decimated by an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Having made a flying start with four tries in six games for Bradford, the season was halted by Covid.
And this time around, he has suffered a broken arm and a fractured thumb, so missing all but two matches.
“I cannot put into words how pleased I am to be staying. I was in a bad place,” he said.
“For the club to stand by me, I couldn’t say no. Going into pre-season I can look to reset.”

BATLEY BULLDOGS coach Craig Lingard says he’s “pretty excited” at the prospect of working with newly-signed centre Josh Hodson.
The Bulldogs completed a double raid on London Broncos by bringing in the 21-year-old after signing halfback James Meadows.
Hodson, from Newport in Shropshire, played rugby union before swapping codes to join Telford Raiders then Midlands Hurricanes.
He came through the Broncos Academy system and made his debut before last season ended early.
“Josh comes highly rated,” said Lingard. “I have spoken to a lot of people who have coached him and played with him.
“We have also signed James Meadows and he talks really highly of him. The games we have watched Josh in this season, he has always been a threat.
“He has got some good skills. We are excited about getting him. He has got a really bright future in the game.
Batley have also signed York winger Perry Whiteley and Leeds hooker Oli Burton, while winger Wayne Reittie has left the club.
Experienced secondrow Josh Tonks has committed to another season with the Bulldogs.

WHITEHAVEN have tempted backrow Jake Moore to join his hometown club for a third time.
The 25-year-old former Wigan and England Academy player, who helped the Cumbrian club win the League 1 title in 2019, has returned after a second spell at neighbours Workington.
Wath Brow Hornets product Moore first joined Whitehaven in 2017, before moving to Workington midway through that season.
He returned in 2019, and after a 2021 contract with Ottawa Aces fell through, rejoined Workington, who have just won promotion to the Championship.
Whitehaven coach Jonty Gorley said: “It’s great to have Jake back. He was one of our better players in 2019 and can also provide cover at centre. He will be one of the fittest in the squad.”
Moore said: “I left to fulfil a full-time role at Ottawa, but that wasn’t meant to be due to Covid.
“Jonty (as assistant coach) did a lot for my progression in 2019 and I can’t wait to play under him again.”
Former Leigh fullback or halfback Gregg McNally has joined Rochdale.

TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE have continued their preparations for Super League by signing France international and former Catalans Dragons halfback or hooker Lucas Albert from Carcassone and Sheffield centre or secondrow Max Clarke while handing a contract extension to outside back Guy Armitage.
Clarke, 21, came through the London Broncos development system and had first-team experience with London Skolars before joining the Eagles in February.
“There is a great team there. The club has big ambitions, like me,” he said.
Toulouse co-president Remi Dufour added: “Thanks to his size and his qualities, Max can bring us a lot.”
Armitage, 29, started his career in rugby union, playing for London Irish, Toulon, London Welsh, Wasps and Ealing Trailfinders as well as England Under 20s (his elder brothers Delon and Steffon are both former full England internationals).
He joined London Broncos in 2019, featuring twice in Super League, and signed for Toulouse in March, after contracts to play for Ottawa Aces and in the French second tier both fell through.
“I’m happy to be able to continue this great story,” he said.

SHEFFIELD EAGLES have backed up the recruitment of Liam Kirk and Martyn Reilly from Oldham by bringing in their fellow forwards Mikey Wood and Vila Halafihi from Hunslet, both on two-year terms.
Ex-Bradford prop Kirk, 24, and former Halifax and Dewsbury utility Reilly, 25, leave the Roughyeds in the wake of their relegation.
Like Reilly, 25-year-old Huddersfield product Wood, who has also been at Bradford and Newcastle, can play a variety of pack roles.
“Sheffield are building well and looking towards the future,” he said. “When they came in, it was perfect for me.
“(Coach) Mark Aston has got a top reputation. He’s always brought lads on and got the best from them. I’ve talked to him and everything looks spot on.
“Having moved around, it’s a big thing for me to be able to stay at a club where I can make a mark.”
Hooker Halafihi, 27, has had three years at Hunslet after previous stints at Leeds, where he came through the Academy, and Bradford and with Penrith Panthers’ Under 20 side.

SWINTON LIONS and Ireland backrow Will Hope is ready to push towards a half-century of appearances for the Lions as Wales fullback or winger Mike Butt prepares for an eighth season at the club.
While experienced ex-Leigh and Featherstone halfback Martyn Ridyard has joined Oldham and prop Sam Brooks has left for Barrow, Hope and ex-England Students player Butt have agreed contract extensions covering the 2022 League 1 campaign.
Swinton have also signed experienced Oldham forward Jack Spencer.
Hope, 28, has become a favourite since joining from Sheffield in 2018, after playing for Salford and Oldham.
He missed the bulk of the 2019 season with a serious leg injury, and has made 46 Swinton appearances.
“Working under (coach) Allan Coleman, and with some exciting additions, it should be a great year ahead,” he said.
Butt, 26, was signed while studying in Manchester and has made 133 appearances, with 77 tries.
Spencer, 30, has had six seasons with Oldham after previously playing for Salford, Barrow and Halifax as well as having a spell in the Wests Tigers set-up.

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