Betfred League 1 news round-up

CORNWALL head coach Neil Kelly was pleased with the quality of players who came to their open trial last Sunday.

The new club have only three players signed so far for their first season and have promised to offer at least ten players to contracts in or from the area.

A major part of fulfilling that is the open trial, which was delayed from December and at risk on the day after heavy rain promoted a last-minute change of venue from their Memorial Ground home in Penryn, to Treviglas Sports Hub in Newquay.

More than 30 players attended and Kelly said: “I was very pleased with the standard and spirit of players that took part and it has given me a lot of material and thoughts to work with as well.

“I will go away and analyse the video from the trial. That process is going to be a bit longer than I anticipated because we saw so many positive performances from the players.

“We can’t take everybody and even the players that are unlucky in that respect, I think they can be proud of the effort and performance that they put in.

“The ones that we can go forward with, they have laid a good foundation for their careers.

“The trial has given me confidence that coming to Cornwall was the right thing to do because I have seen local players with a lot of talent and it has very much given me food for thought.”


HUNSLET head coach Alan Kilshaw says long-term health had to be the priority for Frazer Morris as the prop sits out the 2022 season.

Former Halifax and Dewsbury forward Morris impressed after joining Hunslet midway through the last campaign and was expected to be a key figure for a much-changed squad this year.

However, a back injury suffered at work means that he has been advised not to play rugby this season.

“He came in at the back end of last season and did well, he was looking forward to this season,” said Kilshaw.

“We’re blessed that we’re pretty well off in that position but it’s unfortunate for him. He’s still got a lot to give playing-wise, he’s only 25.

“But his long-term health is the main thing here. He’s got a career and a young family.”

Hunslet have, however, been able to add to their squad with the signing of halfback Fraser Stroud.

The former Halifax man spent last season at West Wales Raiders, making 15 appearances for the club, and becomes the third player to move from Llanelli to South Leeds this off-season following Charley Bodman and Rowland Kaye.

“He’s also played at Leeds Beckett and he’s been impressive,” said Kilshaw of Stroud.

“He’s come in and trained well the last couple of weeks as well, so he should be a great addition to the club.”

Hunslet will prepare for their Challenge Cup tie against Keighley Cougars with two run-outs against amateur opponents.

“We’re having a run against East Leeds (this) Friday, a bit of an opposed session,” he said.

“We’ve got one pencilled in with (Hunslet Club) Parkside as well leading up to the Keighley game, so that should help us while building those links with the community as well.”


Liam Copland and Ethan Ferry are both set to make their OLDHAM debuts this week after earning one-year contracts following successful trial periods with the club.

Copland has starred in the amateur game with Stanningley before being picked up by Hunslet in 2020, but he made only a couple of appearances with the club.

Like Ferry, who has moved from Dewsbury Celtic to sign his first professional contract, Copland has been on trial with the club throughout pre-season.

“Liam came to us for the right reasons, put his best foot forward, and has really ripped into everything we’ve been doing,” said Oldham coach Stuart Littler.

“He came in search of an opportunity and he has got his rewards.”

Likewise Ferry, who linked up with the club through assistant boss Brendan Sheridan, a former Celtic coach, and then impressed Littler on trial.

“There’s loads of growth in Ethan,” said the Roughyeds coach. “He’s not been in these technical systems before and we’re getting a bit more detail into him than he’s had previously.

“He’s also increased his training doing extra sessions himself, he wants to put his best foot forward and he certainly has done that.

“He’s shown everybody that he’s worth a contract so that’s his first target (achieved). His second target is to get in that 17 week in week out.

“That’s something he’s wanting to embrace and we’ll support him the best we can to help him get there.”

Both new additions are set to feature this Saturday when Oldham welcome a Wakefield Trinity side to the Vestacare Stadium, with Littler intending to give every available member of his squad a run-out before their Challenge Cup campaign begins the following weekend.


WEST WALES RAIDERS hope to imminently announce their head coach for the new season.
Aaron Wood departed the club at the end of last year, with assistants Gareth Davies and Ben Flower leading pre-season training since it started in December, but the Raiders hope to soon have a replacement in the role.

“We have a meeting with someone who could be the head coach over the weekend,” said West Wales chief executive Peter Tiffin on Friday.

“Hopefully that comes to fruition and we can announce that early next week.”

The uncertainty over who will be head coach has not prevented the Raiders from putting their squad together, with a host of players announced in the past week.

Back-row Craig Lewis, hooker Dafydd Phillips, prop Sam Herron and centre Louis Watson have all committed for another season, while forward Will Odgers has joined from the Huddersfield Giants Academy and cross-code winger Sam Pridgeon has also signed for 2022.

Further announcements will be made this week and Tiffin believes that, with the caveat of any squad changes that the new head coach might want to make, they will have a bigger group of players to call upon than last season.

“The numbers are big, bigger than last year,” he said. “Between people we’ve signed, offered contracts to or had discussions with, I think it’s 36 currently.”

The club also received good news last week that crowd restrictions will be lifted by the Welsh government in time for their Challenge Cup tie against Swinton Lions.

Crowds have been capped at 50 people for all sports matches, but there will be no limits from Friday allowing for a full crowd for the second-round cup match the weekend after next.


DONCASTER coach Richard Horne is preparing his side for a tough battle against Castleford Tigers on Sunday – one tougher than he might have expected when the game was first arranged.

“We’ve wanted to put a bit more size on the guys which we’ve done, but it means we’ll only really have had a couple of weeks back running before the game.

“They’ll be coming to us with some first-teamers involved now that they have had a couple of friendlies called off for whatever reason. So they need to give some of their fellas a run out, which isn’t ideal for us.

“But the boys are really looking forward to it, they always do when they’re playing against Super League opposition.

“It’s still a long time before we start the league season, so will a tougher game in pre-season have an impact on the year ahead? Probably not as much as it would do if we played it nearer to the start of our season.

“So it’s a little bit awkward, with us starting so late, we’re at a different point in our pre-season to the Super League and Championship clubs.

“But we’ll get what we need to out of the game, just as Castleford will do.“


KEIGHLEY COUGARS head coach Rhys Lovegrove has not ruled out the prospect of arranging some pre-season fixtures should their run in the Challenge Cup not last as long as they’d like.

The Cougars kick-off their cup campaign against fellow League 1 side Hunslet at the end of this month, but an early exit would see them not play again until the league season kicks off at the end of March.

“We could do it, but that’s more of a job for Hendo (head of rugby Andrew Henderson) as he’s in charge of all those logistical decisions and plans,” said Lovegrove.

“We’re only thinking about Hunslet just now and we’ll play that one and see what happens from there.

“I’ll assess things after that and if I feel that the boys could do with an extra game, I’ll give Hendo a shout and he can go through his contacts, and based on criteria and type of fixture we want, he might be able to arrange something.

“I have got a good plan in place for pre-season and I haven’t even factored other cup games into that yet, so we’ll stick with that for now until anything changes and we’ll take it from there.”


LONDON SKOLARS boss Joe Mbu is looking forward to calling on the experience of Lamont Bryan after the former Super League player signed a one-year contract extension.

The Jamaican international made 31 appearances for Harlequins, now London Broncos, in the top flight and also played for Featherstone Rovers before first signing for the Skolars.

Now in his second spell at the club, the 33-year-old forward played nine times last season under Jermaine Coleman.

Successor Mbu coached him in his previous spell as head coach of the club and is delighted to have him on board again.

“Lamont will be a senior player in this season’s squad and brings lots of experience to the group,” said Mbu.

“He has been great in pre-season and is showing a real desire to help some of the club’s younger players progress and improve their games. It is great to be working with him again.”
Skolars have also signed former Hemel Stags outside back Shane Hurley for 2022.

“Shane has shown incredible dedication, work rate and high levels of fitness,” said Mbu.

“He has a good set of skills which will improve further. He is very much in my plans and has the ability to play at centre or on the wing.”


MIDLANDS HURRICANES coach Richard Squires is looking forward to the first time his side can run out onto the pitch at their new home – Forshaw Heath Lane in Birmingham.

The club’s first game in its new guise took place the Friday before last, a 46-6 friendly reverse against Championship side York City Knights.

Another milestone to tick off for the former Coventry Bears will be their first match at their new ground, having moved from Butts Park Arena for this season.

Their second-round Challenge Cup tie is away at Rochdale Hornets, but the club are looking to confirm a pre-season game at their new home ahead of the league starting at the end of March.

“It’s a completely different venue and it’s something new to us,” said Squires.

“We have never been able to train and play at the same venue before, but that is a luxury we now have.

“It is a massive venue with a lot of potential and it allows us to do what we want to do. We can even put on some corporate and hospitality events which we have never really been able to before.

“I can’t wait until we can get started there.”


NORTH WALES CRUSADERS head coach Anthony Murray knows that Sunday’s trip to Barrow Raiders will be a crucial part of their pre-season preparations.

While Championship outfit Barrow have already played Workington and Newcastle this month, the game will be the Crusaders’ first of the year.

Murray, who led North Wales to the League 1 play-offs last season, says the trip to Cumbria will be ideal as they look to build towards the start of the league campaign in late March.

“Barrow is always a tough place to go so it’s great for our pre-season preparations,” he said.

“It will be a really tough tie but it will help to lead us into what will be a very tough test in the Challenge Cup.

“We’re also going to have some really tough journeys to make in League 1 this year, so the trip to Barrow helps prepare us for that too.

“We have some new players in the squad this year and it will give them an insight into the travelling aspects of this league.”


ROCHDALE HORNETS chairman Andy Mazey says he will welcome any broadcast coverage for League 1 in the coming season.

The Sportsman last week announced that they will stream 20 Rugby League matches from across a range of competitions in 2022, including the third tier.

The exact breakdown of matches and how many fixtures in League 1, which has also had games streamed on the OurLeague app in recent years, might be shown remains unknown.

However Mazey, whose Rochdale side will be shown live on the BBC iPlayer for their Challenge Cup second-round tie against Midlands Hurricanes, will be happy to see his side and the competition as a whole get any coverage that comes its way.

“We’re forward-thinking and we like to get our brand out there and publicise what we’re doing as a club as best we can,” said Mazey.

“The cup game against Midlands is going to be on the BBC iPlayer, that’s the chosen tie of the round.

“Some people will look negatively at that and think that it might affect the gate and have a financial consequence, but we look at that differently.

“I think it’s an opportunity to showcase what we’re about as a club and a team. We’ll be fully

bought into any broadcaster and any publicity for the League 1 competitions and our clubs generally.”

Meanwhile, Rochdale have signed hooker Aiden Roden, 21, from Wigan Warriors on a one-year deal.


SWINTON LIONS coach Allan Coleman has said there are plans in place for the club to get further pre-season action under their belts, should they not sustain a run in the Challenge Cup.

The Lions return to action at the end of this month against West Wales Raiders in the competition and progression through the rounds would mean a game every two weeks until the league season kick’s off at the end of March.

“The Challenge Cup could work well for us,” said Coleman.

“We could play a game, get a weekend off for recovery and to work on things that aren’t right and then, hopefully we go again the following week.

“We arranged an early game against Salford because they start their season in early February and we have got a training game behind closed doors against Widnes coming up too.

“We have had some conversations with other clubs about arranging further games in case we don’t progress as far as we’d like in the Cup, but nothing is set in stone yet because other clubs are in a similar situation to us.

“We have had to be adaptable in last 18 months so, and with way things are at the moment might have to continue to be so, so if need to set up another game we should be able to.”

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