Betfred Championship news round up

BRADFORD BULLS recruit Sam Scott says the chance to be reunited with Bulls coach John Kear was just too good to turn down.
The pair go back to when the backrow, now 31 and approaching his twelfth season in the senior game, was in the Academy at Wakefield.
Since then he has had two spells at both Sheffield and York either side of three years at Batley, where Kear was at the helm.
“I know him well,” said Scott, who helped Batley finish third in the Championship to make the Qualifiers in 2016. “We get on and I think my game suits how he likes to play.”
Scott has spent the last four seasons at York, helping them win promotion, alongside Bradford, from League 1 in 2018.
“I loved every minute at York, but felt it was time for a change, to come out of my comfort zone for a new challenge,” he added.
“Bradford were top of my list when I found out they were interested.”
The Bulls, beaten at the first hurdle in this year’s play-offs, are aiming to regain the Super League status lost in 2014.
“All players want to be fighting at the right end of the table. To join a team with aspirations of bigger and better things is fantastic,” added Scott.
“I am really looking forward to playing in front of the Bradford fans. The atmosphere and experience at Odsal was always something to relish, and the travelling Bradford fans were always something you looked out for. To have that kind of support every week makes a massive difference.”
Kear said: “Sam is a very uncompromising backrower, he has a no-nonsense approach and he offers something different to the players we currently possess in that area.”
Meanwhile Bradford have agreed a two-year contract extension with Dan Fleming, the Wales international prop who is in his second spell at the club and has also played for Rochdale, Batley, Castleford, Toronto and Halifax.

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS are seeking an assistant to new coach Brian McDermott following Paul March’s decision to stand down.
Ex-Wakefield and Huddersfield star and York, Hunslet and Keighley player-coach March, who joined the Rovers set-up in 2019 when Ryan Carr was at the helm and took charge for this year’s 1895 Cup final win over York at Wembley after James Webster was sidelined by Covid, will continue in his role as the club’s foundation development officer.
The 42-year-old was alongside Webster when Featherstone lost to Toulouse in France in this year’s promotion decider.
“It’s been a real honour to be involved in two Million Pound Games (the other in 2019) and walk the team out at Wembley, but I have decided to move on to pursue other opportunities,” he explained.
Rovers, who unveiled ex-Leeds coach McDermott as Webster’s successor late last month, have agreed a one-year contract extension with popular forward Jack Bussey.
The 29-year-old began his career with the club before joining London Broncos in 2016. He also played for Toronto before retuning to Rovers in 2019.
Featherstone have signed Leeds winger Luke Briscoe, Bradford fullback Brandon Pickersgill, York halfback Morgan Smith and Leigh hooker or halfback Matty Wildie.
And Bussey said: “I think we’ve recruited well. I think we’ll benefit from the experience some of them bring, particularly those who are joining from Super League.
“The challenge to go one better next year and get promoted excites me.”
Football manager Ian Hardman added: “Jack’s 2021 season was badly affected by injury and we look forward to seeing a fully fit and firing player in our promotion challenge for 2022.
“Jack’s a game-changer. We’re glad he’s with us for another year.”
Samoan international halfback Fa’amanu Brown, a bright performer for Featherstone this year after moving from Canterbury Bulldogs, has joined New South Wales Cup side North Sydney Bears.

HALIFAX PANTHERS coach Simon Grix believes Joe Arundel will prove “a handful” for opposition sides next year.
The Panthers have snapped up the former Wakefield centre as well as ex-Leeds Academy and Featherstone fullback Liam Whitton, who has been at local community club Siddal.
As expected, Frenchman Louis Jouffret has joined from Whitehaven, but his fellow halfback Connor Robinson is leaving the club.
Arundel, 30, played 17 times for Trinity this year, his sixth season at the club after spells with Castleford, who handed him a debut at 16, and Hull.
He played twice for England Knights in 2011, and Grix said: “Joe has made the decision to pursue part-time rugby and we are fortunate to get him.
“He is a big body and will prove a handful on the edge in both attack and defence. His experience will prove invaluable to our younger outside backs.
“He debuted early so has been around a while, but still has a while left in the game.”
Halifax-born Whitton, 20, came through the junior ranks at Siddal before linking up with Leeds and progressing through their development system.
He spent time on dual registration at Featherstone before a permanent switch in 2020, but with opportunities limited as the pandemic hit, returned to Siddal for this year’s National Conference League campaign.
Having monitored his performances, Grix has made his move.
“Liam is an exciting prospect with speed to burn,” he explained.
“He is just coming off his first full season of men’s rugby with Siddal, where he has been a stand-out player.
“Coming through the Leeds Academy system, he has a solid foundation. He can continue his development here.”
Jouffret, 26, was in his second spell at Whitehaven after joining from Avignon in June.
Halifax had already signed halfbacks Cory Aston and Joe Keyes from London Broncos and Hull KR respectively, Whitehaven back Lachlan Walmsley and forwards Matty Gee (from Leigh), Titus Gwaze (London Broncos) and Brad Knowles (Sheffield).

LONDON BRONCOS coach Jermaine Coleman is backing Papua New Guinea international prop Wellington Albert to rediscover his best form in the capital.
Former Super League player Albert has been added to new coach Coleman’s new-look squad along with Kiwi centre Paulos Latu as the Broncos prepare for 2022 in a deal which has provided a boost for fans after the departure of powerful winger Gideon Boafo to divisional rivals Newcastle.
Albert, 27, who played top-flight rugby at both Widnes and Leeds and in his early twenties, had a spell in the second team at Penrith Panthers, is confident he will be fit for next year after missing the whole of the 2021 campaign.
After joining Keighley from Leeds, he suffered a fractured and dislocated ankle during a pre-season training session which required surgery.
“I can’t wait to play again,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with Jermaine and his backroom team to get myself ready and I’m really keen to get back out onto the pitch in front of those Broncos supporters.
“It is going to be a brand new team with a new coach and new ideas, and I can’t wait.”
Albert – who helped PNG Hunters win the Queensland Cup before joining Widnes ahead of the 2018 Super League campaign, then had a two-year stint at Leeds which included a dual-registration spell at Featherstone – says living in London is an attraction.
He has made seven international appearances, featuring at both the 2013 and 2017 World Cups.
Coleman said: “Wellington comes with a fantastic reputation and at his best, is difficult to handle. He has proven that at all levels of the game.
“He’s had a difficult year, but with a full pre-season, will be fit and firing. I know he’s eager to get going.”
It will be a second spell at the Broncos for Latu, 30, who played under Coleman at London Skolars last season.

NEWCASTLE THUNDER have signed props Mitch Clark from Wigan and Pat Moran from London Broncos alongside Broncos winger Gideon Boafo and Australian centre Jessie Dee from Queensland Cup side Mackay Cutters.
And highly-rated halfback Josh Woods and winger Jack Johnson have been handed contract extensions to 2023.
Clark, 28, has spent two years at Wigan after playing for Doncaster, Bradford, Hull KR, Castleford and Leigh. He had a loan spell at Thunder this year.
Ireland international Moran, 23, was at Warrington, Widnes and Avignon before arriving at the Broncos.
Newcastle’s switch from part to full-time and the Broncos’ move in the opposite direction was central to 22-year-old Academy product Boafo’s decision to move North.
His 16 tries in 13 outings this year included a double in the 50-30 home win over Newcastle in May.
“I need to be part of a full-time squad to develop. I’m really happy to have the opportunity to be part of what is building here,” he said.
Coach Eamon O’Carroll added: “He has some X factor and will excite our fans.”
Dee, 27, has also played for Illawarra Cutters in the New South Wales Cup and the Queensland Cup representative team.
“Jessie has played at a high standard in Australia and that experience is going to be really valuable to us next season,” said O’Carroll.
“He can play in a range of positions but is coming to us as a centre and he is going to be a great mentor for some of our young lads.”
Woods started his career at Wigan and made eleven Super League appearances before joining Newcastle a year ago after spending time on loan at Leigh.
The 23-year-old had twelve months on his existing deal but has now committed to the Kingston Park club for two more seasons.
Johnson, 25, started out at Warrington, scoring five tries in 17 Super League outings, and has also played for Featherstone.

SHEFFIELD EAGLES coach Mark Aston wants new signing Kris Welham to combine playing with teaching.
The 34-year-old centre featured in Featherstone’s Million Pound Game defeat by Toulouse last month after representing Salford in the 2019 Super League Grand Final and 2020 Challenge Cup final.
With that level of experience, Aston believes he can play a vital mentoring role with players like Jordan Bull, who has just signed a one-year contract extension, and fellow 21-year-old Ryan Johnson, who recently agreed terms through to 2024.
Welham is among a glut of newly-signed backs, with Ross Oakes from Bradford, who has penned a two-year contract, Samoan Bailey Liu, from Dewsbury, Jamaica international Kadeem Williams, from Coventry, Jason Bass, from York, and Hunslet’s Matty Chrimes also coming on board.
Welham, who has also played for Hull KR and Bradford, is ready to pass on advice.
“I played against some of the young Sheffield lads this year. Tubbs (Aston) has got ambitions for them, with the right coaching and guidance, and if I can chip in, that’s another job done.”
Aston said: “One of the things we always talk about is players mentoring younger lads. Kris will certainly do that and it’ll help the likes of Ryan and Jordan.”
Oakes, 25, has made more than 90 appearances for Bradford, who handed him a debut in 2016 after he came through their Academy.
Having played for Central Queensland Capras in the Queensland Cup, 24-year-old Liu had a season at West Wales Raiders before joining Dewsbury a year ago.
It’s a second spell at Sheffield for Williams, 26, who like who like Bull and Liu, can also play secondrow.
He came through the Eagles development system before joining Gloucestershire All Golds, and also played for Hemel before a 2019 move to Coventry.
Bass, 25, started his career at Coventry before spending four seasons at York.
Chrimes, 24, crossed 16 times for Hunslet this year.

YORK CITY KNIGHTS halfback Brendan O’Hagan is out to make up for lost time after agreeing a one-year contract extension.
The Australian was signed a year ago from Wests Tigers, where he played for the second team before the 2020 New South Wales Cup season was stalled by Covid.
But hip problems restricted the 22-year-old, who has also been at Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders, to six appearances.
The former New South Wales Under 20 representative has now undergone surgery, and will be working hard to be in a position to compete with new signings Jamie Ellis (from Leigh) and Liam Harris (Halifax) for a berth.
“Obviously I need to get my body right. It was a tough year with injury, but hopefully I can get a good, strong pre-season in and can come out firing in 2022,” he said.
“I’m really excited to be staying and happy the club have shown this faith in me. The fans have been massive for me too.”
Coach James Ford, who has himself agreed a contract extension until 2024, said: “I’m really pleased to re-sign Brendan. He has a great understanding of the game and demonstrated his ability at times this year.
“Despite missing almost all pre-season with a freak injury, he started out in awesome form.
“It was difficult for him to deal with numerous setbacks, especially at such a young age.
“But those experiences will make him stronger and I’m excited by the competition we have in the halfback positions.”
Hooker Kriss Brining has agreed a one-year contract extension.
But centre Tyme Dow-Nikau has left the club a year after signing from North Wales Crusaders, for who he failed to play a game because of the Covid-enforced early end to the 2020 season.
The 27-year-old son of former York, Castleford, Warrington and New Zealand player Tawera Nikau, he made twelve appearances for the City Knights, scoring four tries.

BARROW RAIDERS have agreed a two-year contract extension with long-serving forward Dan Toal – and he’s confident he will see it out in the Championship.
The 32-year-old emerged with nearby amateur club Ulverston before joining the Raiders in 2012.
His younger brother, Scotland back Shane Toal, recently agreed a Barrow contact extension until 2024.
The pair helped Paul Crarey’s side win promotion as League 1 champions, with Dan figuring in nine matches and Shane 15.
“This deal will take me into my twelfth year, and I’ve loved my time at the club, so it was an easy decision,” said Dan Toal.
“I’m really looking forward to getting going again in the Championship. I feel the league is more competitive, but we’ve made a few good additions to an already-strong squad, so I think it’s got the potential to be a good season for us.
“The main team goal is to survive and anything more is a bonus, but I’m confident we can do it comfortably and push up the table.”

BATLEY BULLDOGS will be without Jodie Broughton on the pitch next season after the 33-year-old former Super League and England Knights winger confirmed his retirement.
But the try machine will remain involved with the Bulldogs as their player welfare officer.
A product of the Queens club who came through the Leeds Academy, he made his senior debut during a loan stint at Hull, the first of 218 career appearances which yielded 140 tries.
Broughton played for Salford, Huddersfield and Catalans Dragons before spending the truncated 2020 campaign at Halifax, and has combined rugby with his career as a quantity surveyor.
He helped Batley reach this year’s play-off semi-finals, featuring in the 51-12 defeat by Toulouse in France and finishing the year with 13 tries from as many matches.
“Batley are a fantastic club and to have spent my final year as a player there has been amazing,” he said. “There’s a similar feel to Catalans, a special togetherness.
“Batley have given me the opportunity to work with them. I can’t wait to start.”

DEWSBURY RAMS have dipped into the local community game to sign up youngsters Harry Copley and Jackson Walker.
Dewsbury Celtic halfback Copley and Dewsbury Moor forward Walker have impressed while training with the Rams this year.
The latter aims to join a line of family members to have donned a Dewsbury shirt. His dad Matt and uncles Pat (‘Patch’) and James all played for the club.
“It has always been a massive ambition of mine to play Championship rugby and for it to be with Dewsbury makes it all the more special,” he explained.
Copley said: “I think I’ll learn a lot from the players around me. It’s a massive challenge but one I aim to take head on.”
Coach Lee Greenwood added: “Without putting too much expectation on him, Harry is one of the most talented amateurs we have brought into the system.
“I’d be surprised if we don’t see him figure in the starting line-up next year.”
Popular Dewsbury forward Michael Knowles, signed from Featherstone in 2017, will have a testimonial year in 2022.

LEIGH CENTURIONS recruit Jy Hitchcox is targeting a repeat of this season’s promotion success with Toulouse as he prepares for another Championship campaign.
The 32-year-old Australian was on the wing as the French side sealed Super League status by beating Featherstone in last month’s Million Pound Game.
Toulouse are swapping places with Leigh, who are targeting a quick return to the top flight after this year’s relegation disappointment.
Ex-Wests Tigers man Hitchcox, 32, has had three seasons in the second tier since leaving Castleford for Bradford, so knows the division well.
“I’ve joined a club where I don’t have to ask what the aspirations are and what the vision is,” he said.
“To achieve that win with Toulouse meant everything and now I feel I can do that again.”
Hitchcox took advice from Toulouse teammate Harrison Hansen, who played for Leigh between 2016-18.
“He told me it’s a great place and club, and I’m looking forward to getting going and playing in from of the passionate Leigh supporters,” he added.

WHITEHAVEN coach Jonty Gorley has moved quickly to land a replacement for Rochdale-bound fullback Gregg McNally in the shape of Kiwi Geronimo Doyle, who spent this year at Swinton.
The 24-year-old New Zealand Residents representative and New Zealand Maori international, whose uncle Casino Doyle played for Whitehaven in the 1990s, had a stand-out season for the Lions after joining from Auckland club Otahuhu Leopards.
Gorley called the assured goal-kicker who can also play in the wing and “excellent addition” to his squad.
“He can play a number of positions but he’s most comfortable at fullback and I think he plays his best rugby there,” he said.
“He’s a great returner of the ball, he can find the right pass and he is defensively sound.
“Having played at a good standard when he was younger and in the Championship this year, he will be a good fit for us.”
Football committee director Ashley Kilpatrick added: “He’s exciting to watch, and was well though of at Swinton, where he was player of the year.”

WIDNES VIKINGS have brought Bob Beswick back to the club as lead strength and conditioning coach, while Ryan O’Brien, who has been working as assistant to coach Simon Finnigan, has been handed the new role of performance manager.
Ireland international hooker or loose-forward Beswick, 36, has just called time on a senior playing career which began at home-town club Wigan in 2004.
He also played for the Vikings (from 2006 to 2008), Halifax, Leigh and Toronto before then-Newcastle coach Finnigan took him to the North-East a year ago.
“Alongside his playing career, Bob has educated himself to a high degree and sought out and gained practical experience, which was a major determinant in recruiting him for this role,” said the club in a statement.
“He understands the constraints and challenges of working with part-time players, making him an ideal person to work with Ryan to create the best environment we can.
“Bob’s education, experience and work ethic make him a very important member of staff in seeking to create a challenging and productive environment.”

WORKINGTON TOWN might have lost star man Brad Holroyd to Championship rivals Widnes, but they have snapped up a replacement and kept hold of their other joint player of the year Conor Fitzsimmons.
Newcastle’s Alex Clegg, 24, who can also play fullback, has become Town’s first news signing since winning promotion.
Forward Fitzsimmons, 23, has penned a two-year contract extension.
Fitzsimmons was born in Workington, playing for Seaton Rangers as a junior, but spent a couple of years at Castleford, making two Super League appearances in 2016.
He was loaned to his home-town team in 2017 and joined on a permanent deal in 2020 after two seasons with Newcastle.
Fitzsimmons also won the players’ player of the year award as well as the Workington Town Supporters’ Club George Petre Memorial Trophy and the Derwent Park Supporters’ Club player of the year prize.
“I cannot thank the people at this club enough for what they have done for me since I signed in 2020,” he said.
“They have been a massive influence both on and off the field.”

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.