BATLEY BULLDOGS forward Nyle Flynn will miss the opening months of the 2022 campaign with the knee injury sustained at the end of last season.
The 24-year-old former Hunslet man had enjoyed a breakthrough season for Batley, helping them reach the Championship play-offs.
It was in their semi-final exit at Toulouse Olympique that Flynn sustained the injury which head coach Craig Lingard revealed would keep him out of action for some time.
“He’s got quite a serious knee injury, it’s in a brace for three months and then he’ll have a couple of months’ rehab after that,” said the Bulldogs boss.
“I would imagine it’ll be April/May time before he comes back and is available for selection.
“He got injured trying to prevent a try, he got his leg wrapped round a post and came off second best.
“It was a bit disappointing for him really because he’d cemented his place in the team last year and had an excellent year.”
Flynn is not the only player who will be on the sidelines when Batley’s pre-season begins next week, with dependable second-row Dane Manning and young halfback Aiden Ineson forced to go under the knife.
“Dane Manning needs an operation on his thumb at the end of this month so he’ll miss most if not all of pre-season,” said Lingard.
“And Aiden Ineson has gone for an op as well on his knee so he’ll miss most of pre-season I’d have thought.”
Batley got their squad prepared early for 2022, retaining 21 of their group from last season and bringing in six new faces.
On adding further, Lingard – who is set to soon sign a new deal himself – said: “There’s the potential but we’re not actively looking. The market is pretty bare at the minute, we’re happy with what we’ve got.”
As well as the Boxing Day clash with Dewsbury, Batley are close to securing friendlies with Bradford, Huddersfield and Widnes.
Ian Hardman says that it is “a huge honour” to return to FEATHERSTONE ROVERS as assistant coach.
The former fullback, who spent a decade in Rovers colours and scored 131 tries in 288 appearances, has been appointed as Brian McDermott’s number two, replacing Paul March.
Since finishing his playing career in 2018, Hardman has coached at scholarship level for Leeds Rhinos and also led amateur outfit Ackworth Jaguars.
The 36-year-old returned to Rovers in the role of football manager earlier this year, and is delighted to now take up a new position.
“I’m really happy to be joining a new look Featherstone coaching team,” said Hardman. “I’ve been coaching for approximately six years and to take this next step into the professional game, at this club is a huge honour.”
Head coach McDermott said that Hardman had caught his eye since the former Leeds boss arrived at the club last month.
“In the short time I have been at the club, I have been struck by Ian’s detailed knowledge and understanding of the game, and above all his desire and ambition for the club,” said McDermott.
“I see Ian as an integral part of the off field team that takes this club back into Super League and I’m really pleased to have him on board as my first recruit in my off field team.”
Featherstone have also continued to build their squad over the past week, with James Lockwood, Jacob Doyle and Loui McConnell confirmed to have committed for another year.
Loose forward Lockwood has been at the club since 2012 and wore the captain’s armband last season, while winger Doyle scored two tries in their 1895 Cup final victory this year and former Leeds forward McConnell was also involved in their Wembley success.
Hardman said of the skipper’s extension: “Locky is an inspirational leader on and off the field for our club and we are so pleased he is confirmed in the camp for another crack at Super League.”
HALIFAX PANTHERS have locked in their coaching team with Simon Grix signing a new three-year contract and bringing Liam Finn and brother Scott onto his staff.
The club have rewarded the head coach with a fresh deal after an impressive tenure so far which has seen them reach the Challenge Cup semi-finals shortly after his appointment in 2019, then finish third in the Championship in his first full season in charge in 2021.
Grix, who had two spells with his hometown club as a player either side of a decade at Warrington Wolves, said: “I’m obviously happy to have agreed a deal with the club, for what is my short term future in coaching.
“I am grateful for the backing of the board, trusting me in what I see as a privileged position in coaching this club. I am in the early stages of my coaching career and excited at the challenges we have ahead as a club in our collective efforts to move forward each year in all areas of the organisation.”
Grix will look to do that alongside two familiar faces, bringing on board two former Halifax players who recently retired in Finn and his older brother Scott Grix.
Finn has joined the club as assistant coach, replacing Rikki Sheriffe, while Scott takes the role of strength and conditioning coach from Andy Holleyhead.
“Like Rikki, Finny has obviously represented the club as a player, keeping a keen interest after moving on, therefore has a real understanding of our club and the expectations around it,” said Simon Grix.
“It’s great for us to welcome Scott fully onto the coaching team as Strength & Conditioner. The characteristics he has developed as a person and player will transfer nicely into this role, in addition to working with our back three throughout the year, imparting his knowledge and experience there also.”
The Panthers have also brought in Kyle Wood, the experienced 32-year-old hooker signing from Wakefield Trinity.
Recommendations from George Williams and Josh Hodgson helped Caleb Aekins decide to join LEIGH CENTURIONS.
The fullback, who was born in New Zealand but is of Welsh descent, has signed ahead of the 2022 season from NRL side Canberra Raiders.
He made seven appearances for the Raiders last season having first played in the NRL for Penrith Panthers in 2018.
Aekins, 23, is in Wales’ train-on squad ahead of next year’s World Cup and believed a move to England would be beneficial, with some old Canberra team-mates helping to the seal the deal on Leigh.
“I am looking forward to coming to the United Kingdom,” said Aekins, who for now remains in Australia before heading for his new home.
“My manager and I had a long chat and he said that the experience of playing in the English game would do me good.
“I have watched a few games on television and spoken to some of the boys who have played in the UK, including George Williams and Josh Hodgson and they both said that Leigh Centurions is a good club to join.
“Hopefully I will get over in the next couple of weeks and meet everyone.”
Chris Chester, head of rugby at the Centurions, said of the move: “Caleb’s signing is very important to us and means that we have the spine of the team sorted out.
“He’s a player I’ve monitored for a couple of seasons and when I contacted Josh (Hodgson), who’s a good friend of mine, he spoke very highly of Caleb.
“Caleb is young, fit and can’t wait to get over here and play for Leigh Centurions. He plays in a pivotal position and it’s a huge signing for our club.
“He will set the Betfred Championship alight in 2022.”
Aekins is the 11th new signing of the off-season for Leigh, who are still yet to appoint a new head coach ahead of their return to the Championship following relegation.
Australian halfback Will Ramsey says the lure of the LONDON BRONCOS name helped convince him to join Jermaine Coleman’s squad on a one-year deal.
Ramsey is one of four players to sign for London over the past week, joining Rob Tuliatu, Ronny Palumbo and Jude Ferreira.
His previous experience in the British game came last season with League 1 strugglers West Wales Raiders, but Ramsey did enough there to convince Coleman of his potential and is delighted with the move.
“Getting the opportunity to join the Broncos is definitely an exciting one and a big step forward for my footy career, I can’t wait to rip in,” he said.
“Being from Australia you definitely hear the name London Broncos as they are a well known club.”
“I remember watching players like Jamie Soward when he came over and played for the Broncos and always thought it would be sick to get an opportunity like that.”
London have switched to operating a part-time squad this season and Ramsey believes he can make the step to Championship level and improve his own game in the process.
“I think I can bring a competitive element to the squad and if I earn a spot in the team you’ll see that in my performances each week,” he said.
“I’m also excited to progress my game and take some pointers, especially from the senior players and the coaching staff.”
The Broncos last week announced two further permanent arrivals, with Tuliatu and Palumbo signing one-year contracts pending visa approval.
Both are also of Australian origin but represent other sides at international level – prop Tuliatu is a Greek international while back-row Palumbo plays for Italy.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old centre Ferreira has joined London on a season-long loan from Hull FC.
The centre has is yet to make his competitive debut for the Super League side but will get experience of senior rugby in 2022 with the Broncos.
Simon Finnigan says that WIDNES VIKINGS are training earlier and more frequently to get ready for the 2022 season.
The Vikings finished eighth in the Championship, three wins off the top-six play-offs, last season in Finnigan’s first campaign as head coach.
The former Newcastle boss said that he and the squad were in agreement to have an earlier start to this pre-season, beginning in October.
“We’re in our third week,” he said. “Our last pre-season because of Covid and different things was very interrupted.
“From speaking to the lads and staff we all thought we’d get back in as soon as we could. Obviously we need a rest but we all wanted to get back into it.”
Finnigan is also feeling a benefit from the relaxation of restrictions on clubs surrounding Covid-19, and has added an extra day a week into their programme.
“There’s not the same emphasis on the Covid restrictions (as last year) so it’s much more like a normal pre-season would be,” he said.
“We’ve added an extra day as well, that’s something that’s different from last pre-season, we were in three days a week and now we’re in four. So it’s more back to normal.”
Widnes have brought 11 new signings to the DCBL Stadium, but the head coach says that they have integrated quickly into the club.
“They’ve been great, they’ve all settled in really well,” said Finnigan, who has also restructured his staff with Ryan O’Brien having the role of performance manager alongside his assistant coach duties and Bob Beswick joining as strength and conditioning coach.
“The players we’ve retained were coming in a little bit earlier but the new ones have been more and more involved, and they’ve adapted to it and been great.”
Finnigan also added on the injury front: “We’ve got a few boys carrying knocks from the end of last season but all the pre-existing injuries that we’ve got, everyone will be fine for the start of the season.”
Brett Delaney has revealed how time spent back at Leeds Rhinos reignited the love for Rugby League that has now brought him to YORK CITY KNIGHTS.
The Australian, who won four Super League titles, two Challenge Cups and a World Club Challenge in his nine years as a player at Headingley, was last week appointed as assistant coach to James Ford at York.
Delaney, 36, retired shortly after leaving Leeds due to injury, and it was only with a return to the Rhinos that he was set on the coaching path.
“When I retired, I fell out of love with rugby league a bit but I got that buzz back when I got involved with the scholarship there,” said Delaney.
“I worked with Chev (Walker) in the Academy and the reserves with Rob (Burrow) until it got cancelled. I fell back in love with it there and realised that I have something to give as a coach.
“I had 17 years playing, I like to think I can give some of them years back and I’ve really enjoyed that transition.”
After having a brief role at Oldham last season under his former Leeds boss Brian McDermott, Delaney is now the number two at York, and will work on the Knights’ defence in particular.
“I’m not going to tell a half-back how to throw the ball around in attack, but I made a career out of defence and being a defensive player,” he said.
Delaney also has ambitions for York as a club, saying: “It’s run like a Super League club – and I truly believe that this club will reach Super League in the future.
“I wouldn’t be here otherwise – I’m a winner, I want to win things.”
York, who will host Midlands Hurricanes and Castleford Tigers in pre-season friendlies on the 7th and 16th of January respectively, have also announced the signing of 26-year-old centre Jack Logan from Leigh Centurions on a one-year deal.
BARROW RAIDERS have continued to build for their Championship return with the confirmation of five players signing fresh terms.
Jarrad Stack, Bradd Crellin, Danny Morrow, Hakim Miloudi and Connor Terrill will all remain at Craven Park, with captain Stack signing a two-year extension and the rest penning deals for one season.
Australian Stack, 33, who joined the club in 2017 and has been skipper for the past two campaigns, said: “The decision to re-sign was easy.
“My body feels good and I felt like I had a good, consistent season last year. I’m definitely not ready to hang my boots up and I’ve got plenty to offer.”
Stack believes that the deals being done at Barrow, including the signing of Italian international prop Anton Iaria from Penrith, will make them competitive in the second tier following promotion.
“Barrow have made some great signings and re-signings and I think we’ll be better for it this side,” he said.
“It’s going to be a hard league, but I definitely think we’ll be challenging and the goal is to make finals.”
BRADFORD BULLS prop Ebon Scurr wants to have a bigger impact next season after securing a new two-year deal with the club.
There was reported interest from St Helens and Hull FC in the talented 21-year-old, but Bradford managed to tie him down until the end of 2023.
Scurr says that his focus now is on getting fitter to have an even bigger influence in the Bulls pack.
“I am looking to improve my fitness so I am able to play longer minutes in matches and have the impact that I do for a longer period of time,” he said.
“I just want to get ripped in to pre-season, try get in the best condition I can physically before the season starts so I can be as much of an influential player as I can.”
Bradford also made two new signings last week, handing one-year deals to England Youth internationals Coby Nichol and Ajahni Wallace, who both join from Leeds Rhinos’ academy.
Bradley Ho has signed a new two-year contract while Sam Hallas has left for Championship rivals Newcastle Thunder.
DEWSBURY RAMS head coach Lee Greenwood says there is money left in the budget for further signings.
Ten new arrivals have already committed to playing at the Tetley’s Stadium in 2022, joining the 14 who are confirmed to be staying put, but the Rams could yet strengthen in the backs.
“We’ve got space for one or two and there’s a bit of budget left,” said Greenwood, “but they’ve got to be right, they’ve got to be an improvement and take the team forward.
“We’re probably a bit light at fullback, so we’re on the lookout there. But we’ve got players in the squad that can play there. If we don’t get anybody in that position then so be it.
“And then just in general terms of numbers we could maybe do with another outside back, more for squad depth really. Again, we’re not in too much panic.”
Dewsbury, who began pre-season training last week, have lined up a friendly with Hull KR for Friday 21st January. Along with the annual Boxing Day joust with Batley, the Rams hope to arrange one more game.
NEWCASTLE THUNDER prop Nathan Wilde believes the club’s step up to full-time status will help him improve his own game.
Wilde joined the club from Wigan Warriors ahead of the 2021 season and made a big impact, cementing a first-team spot and missing only three matches, and he has now signed fresh terms to stay another season.
“I want to improve certain parts of my game that Freddy (Eamon O’Carroll) and Denis (Betts) have spoken about, keep the starting spot and continue enjoying my rugby.
“It’s my first full-time pre-season, which is exciting itself and hopefully it all goes well, I can kick on and everyone can see the difference.”
Newcastle have also handed a new contract to halfback Jake Shorrocks, who will remain at Thunder until 2023 like playmaking partner Josh Woods.
There have also been three new signings confirmed in the past week, with forwards Sam Hallas and Brad Gallagher moving from Bradford Bulls while Connor Bailey has joined from Wakefield Trinity following his loan spell in the north-east last term.
SHEFFIELD EAGLES have brought together another pair of brothers by uniting former Huddersfield Giants academy player James Johnson with older sibling Liam.
Just days after confirming the signing of Liam Johnson from Doncaster, back-row or centre James has joined him at the Eagles on a one-year deal.
“It is good as it’s always been like a dream of mine, as a kid, to play with my brother,” said the 20-year-old.
“I’ve watched him go through the systems, playing for Sheffield and different clubs.
“It’s quite surreal really and I’ll have to get to grips playing with someone that I’ve always looked up to.”
Sheffield also have Izaac and Joel Farrell signed on for 2022 and, remarkably, they had three sets of brothers last season in the Farrells, Bobby and Harry Tyson-Wilson (the latter has signed an extension to stay another year), and Greg and Paddy Burns.
Meanwhile, the Eagles have also signed prop Brandon Douglas, 24, from Doncaster on a two-year deal, plus 18-year-old winger Ben Sheils from Leeds’ academy and Stanningley forward Tyler Hart, 19, on one-year contracts.
WHITEHAVEN head coach Jonty Gorley believes prop Tom Walker has plenty more to give after handing him a new three-year contract.
Walker joined Haven ahead of the 2020 season and cemented himself in their pack last season as they reached the Championship play-offs.
Whitehaven director Ashley Kilpatrick revealed there was interest from other sides in signing Walker, but Gorley is delighted to keep him in his squad.
“It’s great to have Tom back on board, he is a proven Championship front rower who brings us some experience in that area,” said Gorley.
“I’ve known and coached Tom for a long time now and he’s the type of player a coach wants in his squad, tough and uncompromising who knows how to play.
“I still think Tom has a lot more to give and I’m glad this will be at Whitehaven.”
The club have also re-signed their player of the year Tom Wilkinson on a one-year contract, while Australian halfback or hooker Alex Bishop has joined for 2022.
WORKINGTON TOWN‘s latest signing has been given the seal of approval from his former amateur coach.
Wath Brow Hornets centre Curtis Teare, 22, has signed a two-year contract with last season’s League 1 play-off winners.
The former England Community Lions captain at Under-19 and Under-23 level has been backed to succeed in the Championship by Wath Brow boss Ian Rooney.
“He’s shone in the amateur game,” said Rooney. “The natural progression is to challenge himself and I’m certain he’ll do very well.
“He is a very talented young man who will only get better in a semi-professional environment.
I’m sure Chris (Thorman, Workington head coach) and his team will develop Curtis and he has the attributes to be a real asset for Town as he was for us.”
Evan Simons has also joined Workington for 2022 from Newcastle Thunder, whose move to full-time status forced the 30-year-old hooker’s exit.
Town have also tied down Jamaican international back Joe Brown and forward Rhys Clarke to new deals.
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