Betfred Championship round-up

Knights pull off Cuthbertson coup
YORK CITY KNIGHTS have signed Super League Grand Final winner Adam Cuthbertson.
The Aussie forward will join the Knights on a one-year deal from Leeds Rhinos after featuring for the West Yorkshire side in two Grand Final victories in 2015 and 2017.
As well as playing for Manly, Cronulla, St George and Newcastle in the NRL, he was Head Coach of the successful Rhinos women’s side who won two Challenge Cups and a Grand Final under his tutelage.
“I feel Adam will make a significant impact on our preparations and culture, as well as our on-field performances,” Knights Head Coach, James Ford, said.
“He gives us added leadership and experience, but also a different dimension to our attack with his offload game. I was impressed with Adam’s drive to be the best version of himself, his humility and I’m excited to work with him.
“We should acknowledge the efforts and loyalty of our supporters and sponsors who have enabled us to add Adam to our squad for 2021.”
The move was enabled by a sizeable donation from the club’s Squadbuilder fund and it sees Cuthbertson join plenty of other big names at the Knights next year with the likes of Ryan Atkins also competing in the Championship next year with York.
“Every one of these teams that I’ve played in has been built around a really great culture and I’m sure, from listening to Fordy, that’s there’s already a great culture here and it’s a case of now working on it to go win more games and, potentially, lift some trophies,” Cuthbertson said.
“I just like to compete. Anyone who has watched me in the past probably thinks I’m a bit erratic but it’s just that I love the purity of the game and playing what I see.
“I really like to compete and challenge myself and my own teammates.”
This move capped off another huge week of recruitment for the club after James Green along with Joe Porter, Myles Harrison and AJ Towse all signed new deals with the club while Toby Warren was announced as a York player on a community dual-registration deal with Heworth ARLFC.

Hall ready to step up
NEW BATLEY signing Elliot Hall believes he can make the step up to Championship level after joining the West Yorkshire club from League 1 side Workington Town.
Hall, who has featured for Coventry, London Skolars and Town in the third tier, will join Craig Lingard’s squad in 2021 after scoring six tries in five games pre-lockdown this year for the Cumbrian side.
“We had a really good start to the season,” Hall told League Express.
“Had the virus not happened, I’m sure we were on track for a good season.
“I was disappointed the season got cancelled from a personal perspective but also from a team point of view.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity from Batley and I feel like I can add value to the team and I’m looking forward to testing myself and taking this step up. I’m ready to grab that opportunity.”
Hall, who begins a Masters degree in Strategic Sports Marketing at Leeds Beckett University this week, knows he can add to the Bulldogs’ team and Batley coach Craig Lingard was keen to press that home.
“He (Lingard) felt that I was ready for a step up as well,” Hall revealed.
“He talked about my season back in Coventry and the last year in Workington. I had a good try scoring record. He felt that with a strong forward pack, being on the front foot, I can really add value.”
While glad for this new opportunity, Hall was quick to praise his former employers.
“I loved it (at Workington),” he continued.
“I loved how passionate the fans were and how supportive they were. I enjoyed my Cumbrian derby in pre-season.
“I’m disappointed with how everything happened, but it’s a great club and I couldn’t have asked for a better club being so far away from home in moving to Cumbria. I’m really grateful for how they looked after me.”

Big year ahead, says Kear
BRADFORD BULLS coach John Kear is anticipating one of the most competitive Championship seasons in a long time.
While the 2020 season proved to be a wash-out at this level, 2021 looks set to be exciting campaign and Kear can’t wait to get started.
“2021 is going to be a big season for us as a club and the game as a whole,” said Kear.
“We have to get back out there with a good standard of rugby being played in front of a crowd.
“Leigh have recruited very strongly, as have Featherstone and York. You have London and Toulouse to throw in there as well.
“There has been some really strong recruitment across the league, so it will be a very strong competition next year.
“But it will also be an even competition. There will be no runaway team like there was when Toronto were in it, so we’ll all be looking to knock each other over.
“It will all make for an exciting and intriguing season.
Meanwhile, the club have announced the permanent signing of loanee Adam Rooks from Hull Kingston Rovers.

Smith out to repay Oldham faith
OLDHAM backrower or centre Ed Smith is hoping for an injury-free campaign after re-signing with the club for 2021.
Despite signing for Oldham in January 2019, the former York City Knights captain has made just three substitute appearances for Oldham.
His club debut was initially held up as he recovered from a second knee reconstruction operation, before finally pulling on an Oldham shirt in August last year. A further two appearances followed, but he missed the final games of the campaign with a rib injury.
He later needed a relatively minor operation on his other knee, which he was able to get done while there were no games because of the pandemic.
“I’m intent on putting all these injury problems behind me and repaying the club, and my team-mates, for the chance they’ve given me to strike back,” said Smith.
“I’m back in the gym and I’ve been doing a lot of cycling and a little bit of running. Matt (Diskin) is going to give me a personal programme to work on between now and the start of squad training again.
“I’m very conscious of the fact that I’ve been at the club since January 2019 and most of that time I’ve spent in the physiotherapy room. It’s been a very frustrating period of my life.
“I’ve got to be true to the club, to my fellow players and to myself, but I’m sure I can do this and repay all the people at Oldham who have stood by me.
“I need to be out on the pitch with the lads and I’m looking forward to doing that and playing my part in helping the boys to enjoy a successful 2021 campaign.”

One or two more, says Littler
SWINTON LIONS coach Stuart Littler explained that the club still has a few more slots available in its squad ahead of 2021.
The Lions haven’t added to their squad for a few weeks after a strong month of recruitment but Littler admits that he and his colleagues are keeping an eye out.
“There are maybe one or two more slots,” he revealed to League Express.
“We’re just having a look at what is about, but we’re happy with where we are. We’ve got all the boys we wanted nailed down and re-signed and we’re happy with who we’ve brought into the organisation.”
The Lions’ marquee signing is Leigh legend and halfback Martyn Ridyard and Littler is hoping he will help bring the young players through around him in 2021.
“We’ve got a young team and I’m hoping he can be the missing piece,” he continued.
“He has experience, and hopefully he can bring that to the younger players, especially the pivots and develop them from the inside.
“He’s not getting younger, like all of us, but he’s got a good few years left in him, I believe.”

Eagles hope for November pre-season
SHEFFIELD EAGLES general manager Liam Claffey has revealed that the club is hoping to be back in training in November.
With new restrictions brought in nationally last weekend, clubs have to work around the new guidelines in a bid to welcome back Championship Rugby League in the New Year.
“We’re hoping for November,” Claffey said.
“We were hoping to have some training very soon, but I don’t think that will happen due to the new restrictions and a lot of paperwork to be done.
“The RFL has been very helpful, trying to work with us to get back as soon as possible, but it is very difficult at the moment.”

Rovers return Rhinos’ support
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS coach James Webster has said it was only right that they supported their partner club, Leeds Rhinos, as the Super League season got back underway last month.
Both Brett Ferres and James Harrison are currently on loan at Leeds Rhinos from the Rovers for the remainder of the year.
“The situation with Leeds is quite unique,” said Webster, who is also Richard Agar’s assistant at Headingley.
“We have a close relationship with the Rhinos and we have been on the receiving end of some support from them over the past couple of years in terms of players.
“So it was only fitting that when Leeds asked if we could return the favour that we did that.
“James and Brett will be returning to us after their loan spell and we look forward to seeing them back here next year.”

WHITEHAVEN’s latest overseas signing, Lachlan Walmsley, is eyeing a place in next autumn’s World Cup after his move to Cumbria.
The 22-year old, who has come through the Newcastle Knights and South Sydney systems in Australia, has Scottish heritage and believes his move to a new competition might get him noticed by the Bravehearts’ coaching team.
“I’m really looking forward to coming over and playing a different kind of footy,” said Walmsley.
“I know a little bit about the Championship and I want to give it a shot.
“I’d love to get in the Scotland squad for next year’s Rugby League World Cup, so I’ll be giving it a good go.”
Walmsley is the third overseas signing to link up with coach Gary Charlton’s side for 2021 and he is looking forward to seeing the utility player, whose preferred position is fullback, in action.
“He’s a really exciting player,” said Charlton.
“He has pace to burn and knows where the try line is.
“He seems to have good awareness and good skills and what I’ve seen of him really excites me.”

DEWSBURY RAMS have signed 22-year-old winger or centre Joe Wardill, less than 18 months after he retired from the game after having had three hip operations.
Wardill came through the ranks at Hull KR and went on to make eight Super League appearances for them before the injuries impacted his career.
The time out of the game has seen his body recover well and he is now set to resume his career with the Rams.
They have also signed HUll KR Academy product Brad Clavering from Coventry Bears.
“Despite being young, Joe took the decision to retire last year due to hip injuries,” said Rams’ coach Lee Greenwood.
“He was in the early part of a three-year contract at Hull KR, so it showed what they thought of him.
“After a year out, his body recovered sufficiently for him to play for their reserves this season and he held up well. If managed correctly, we could have a great addition to the squad.
“Joe will be living and studying locally and is keen to establish himself in the game again.
“I watched some of Brad’s games for Coventry alongside a few of our boys that were there on dual-registration and he performed well.
“He is a big unit with a high skill level and if he can really apply himself in pre-season I believe he can make the step up to Championship rugby.”
As well as Wardill and Clavering, the Rams added a further five names to their roster for next year with loose-forward Sonny Esslemont, prop Connor Scott, Davey Dixon and Frazer Morris all renewing their 2020 contracts. Tom Garratt will also be back at the club in 2021 after taking some time out from the game for personal reasons.
After impressing during his debut season for the club in 2019, Garratt will now see out the second year of his contract in 2021.

LEIGH CENTURIONS have retained the series of Kiwi prop Mark Ioane.
The forward signed for the Centurions from London Broncos after playing more than 100 games for the capital club.
“I’m thrilled to be staying with Leigh,” he told the club website.
“We made a great start to this year and showed lots of promise, but matters were taken out of our hands with the season suspension.
“This is a really good group and I’m glad to be a part of it again for next season. I am grateful for the support given to me by the Leigh Centurions fans and the faith shown in me by the coaching staff.
“The majority of the lads from last season are staying on and we all just want to get out on that field, because we feel we can accomplish something special.”
Ioane’s coach, John Duffy, knows how important the inclusion of the Auckland-born star is for their chances in 2021.
“Mark hit his straps very early on after joining us and has become an important member of our group,” Duffy said.
“He settled here really well and has taken to life in Leigh.
“Mark is just the sort of person you want to have around at a club. He trains hard, listens and is always asking where he can improve. We are delighted to have him on board again.”

TOULOUSE OLYMPIQUE coach Sylvain Houles knows how important the current TV deal is to French Rugby League.
At the start of 2020, Catalans Dragons’ games weren’t being shown on TV after the deal with BeIn sports wasn’t renewed at the end of 2019.
However, post lockdown, the Dragons’ games have been shown on a free-to-air channel, L’Equipe, allowing millions of French citizens to watch the 13-a-side game.
“It’s a big boost having this deal with the TV,” said Houles.
“It’s a free TV deal, so a lot of people will be able to watch Rugby League again in France.
“Catalans have done very well, so now we need to make sure everyone is behind them.”

HALIFAX coach Simon Grix has said Brandon Moore’s loan move to dual-registration partners Huddersfield Giants is a win-win situation for all parties.
The Giants have taken the hooker on loan for the rest of the season to cover the injury to Adam O’Brien and it will see the 24-year-old test himself at the highest level before returning to the Shay next year with valuable experience under his belt.
“We, as a club, see this as a scenario where everybody wins,” said Grix.
“Unfortunately for Adam O’Brien, he will miss the remainder of the season, leaving them in a position where they need another hooker.
“It is obviously an opportunity for Brandon to get back out on the field and hopefully fulfil a dream of playing Super League.
“We get to help our dual-registration partner out and we get him back, better for the experience, ready for the 2021 season.”

LONDON BRONCOS players have been well looked after this year with player welfare officer John Keyes making sure they have all been coping with their enforced period away from the game.
He has been on hand to offer them any advice they’ve needed and he has been a constant friendly ear for them if they have needed someone to talk to during the Covid-19 crisis.
And, despite most of them coping with the world-wide difficulties relatively well, Keyes knows how important his role has been.
“To be fair, the boys have pretty much all been in good spirits, despite it being an incredibly tough time for them,” said Keyes.
“We need to remember these lads are used to being around each other almost every day of the week, playing rugby and enjoying the gym.
“This was taken away from them suddenly and we have a duty of care to make regular checks on the boys to ensure they are coping.”

THE deadline for WIDNES VIKINGS supporters to submit their season ticket refund form has passed.
Saturday was the final day supporters could submit the form for a refund, with the initial batch of refunds now having been processed.
“We would like to thank all supporters for their patience and understanding throughout our season ticket refund process,” a club statement said.
“Those who have not requested a refund or made the club aware of their decision to donate their season ticket money to the club before the above deadline will be classed as a donation.