Rochdale Hornets hooker Sean Penkywicz is looking forward to facing some old friends on Sunday, when he travels back to Cumbria to face Workington Town.
The 37-year-old spent two years at Derwent Park before joining the new-look Rochdale side this season and has already been back in contact with a number of people from his former club.
“It will be nice to get back there,” said Penkywicz.
“I missed the end of season do last year and I have already spoken to one of the directors, who has asked if they can present me with a shirt before the game, which will be nice.
“I’ve already had big Fui (Fuifui Moimoi) ringing me up saying he’s going to run all over me in the game, so it’s going to be fun.
“It’ll be nice to thank Workington for everything they did for me in the last two years, but then I’ll get my head on the game and hopefully get the win.”
On a team level, the game will also give the Hornets a gauge of where they are as they aim to challenge for promotion this year.
“It is going to be a massive task this year to break into the play-offs, but it’s one that is achievable with the quality of players we have,” said Penkywicz.
“We started pre-season late, so we’re probably a bit behind the eight ball, but we’re only going to get better as the season goes on.
“Workington have started really well, so they’ll be contenders, and there is no tougher away trip than going there. So if we can go and put a marker down we’ll see what comes from it.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS‘ international forward Morgan Evans believes a repeat performance against Coventry on Sunday could prove the kick-start that their season needs.
The Raiders famously beat the Bears 44-16 in July, when the sides last met, to claim their first ever win as a League 1 club.
Although the Raiders have yet to pick up another win, Evans believes Sunday presents them with a great opportunity to do so.
“Coventry is definitely a game we can target and one everyone feels we can win,” said Evans, who scored a try in that win.
“Everything just came together for us when we played them last year and it would be great if we can repeat that this weekend.
“One of the biggest differences in that game was that we got on the scoresheet early on and that gave the whole team the confidence boost they needed.
“The generic trend had been that we’d be in an arm wrestle for 15 or 20 minutes and then concede. Heads would drop and the floodgates would open. But that game last year bucked that trend and we really knew we could do it when we went ahead.
“Even the new guys here know what that win meant to the club and we’re fully aware that we can make history again by getting a repeat win. But now we’d want to back up a good result with another good result rather than just have it as a one off.
“But it will all come down to who performs better on the day. If we can repeat our performance from last year it will be brilliant.
“Coming so early in the season as well will really give us something to kick on from. If we can get an early win it will be a much better season for us that we had last year.”
HUNSLET coach Gary Thornton received mixed news last week following two serious looking injuries in the win over North Wales Crusaders.
Although the shoulder injury sustained by Harry Kidd in the victory over North Wales Crusaders is not as bad as first feared, his team-mate Ben Markland looks set to miss the rest of the year with a knee problem.
“Harry dislocated his shoulder in the game but it’s not as bad as we first expected,” said Thornton.
“He has had a repair on the shoulder previously and has seen the specialist who did the surgery. Everything is still intact, so hopefully he won’t be out for too long.
“We just have to put him through an intense course of physio to get it right and strengthened up. But I’m expecting four to six weeks until he’s back with the team.
“Ben has got an ACL rupture, so that’s pretty much his season done, which is a shame.
“He’s a young lad that’s come straight out of the Leeds Rhinos Academy and has done really well, so we’re really disappointed for Ben.
“I’m sad to lose Ben because he was doing particularly well for us and we thought we had a good one there.
“On the counter side of that though, we have agreed to sign Liam Copland, who has been on trial with us from Stanningley.
“His enthusiasm and willingness to learn has really impressed me. He has a great attitude to the game and he’s been able to change his work patterns so that he’s able to get to training more and he’s making every session now.
“He played at North Wales in the Cup and didn’t let himself down, so we’re looking forward to seeing him in the group again.
“And with the loss of Ben it keep our numbers up.”
WORKINGTON TOWN coach Chris Thorman has said halfback Carl Forber deserves all the accolades that come his way after becoming the club’s all-time leading goalkicker.
Forber’s three goals against Newcastle Thunder in the last league game saw him surpass Iain MacCorquodale’s record of 809 goals for the Cumbrian side. Forber, who took MacCorquodale’s total points record last year, has now scored 811 goals (806 conversions & penalties, 5 field goals) across two separate spells for the club.
“It’s a great achievement for Carl,” said Thorman.
“He’s a great goalkicker, but that’s not by chance because he practises a lot. He works on it at least once a week and it’s habitual. Getting into that routine and producing the same technique with every single kick means he won’t go far wrong.
“I don’t know his kicking percentage is, but it can’t be far off 80 per cent in the time I’ve been here and he deserves some accolades for that.”
NEWCASTLE THUNDER coach Simon Finnigan is glad the club’s scheduled bye weekend has come at this stage of the year.
Following on from Sunday’s Challenge Cup game against Dewsbury Rams, Thunder are not now back in action until they travel to London Skolars on Saturday, March 28.
“The break does come at a good time for us,” said Finnigan.
“Sunday’s match was the last in a tough three-game block and it saw a step up to play a Championship team, so it was always going to be a physical game.
“We’ve had a few bumps and bruises in that time, so the week off will give us all a chance to refresh before the Skolars game.
“We’ve had a fairly full-on start to the year, so it’ll be good for the boys to get a bit of time off.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS coach Anthony Murray knows his side will face a big test on Sunday when Barrow Raiders visit Queensway Stadium.
Fresh from a 29-6 defeat to table toppers Hunslet last time out, Murray knows this weekend’s clash will be a big game as they aim to go one better than last year and each the play-offs.
“With no game at the weekend it was a good chance for the players to rest up a few bumps and bruises and get themselves ready for what promises to be a really tough challenge against Barrow,” said Murray.
“It will be a hard game, but if we have any real aspirations of making the top six then we have to challenge ourselves against the higher listed teams in the division.
“If we want to do better than last year then we have to give a good account of ourselves in these games.”
COVENTRY BEARS director of rugby Alan Robinson has said the he cannot read too much into the start the club has made this season.
So far the Bears have gone down to Newcastle Thunder at home, and away to Barrow Raiders, but it was always going to be a tough start for the new-look side.
“We have played two very good sides in our opening two games,” said Robinson.
“We are under no illusions as to where we are as a club and we are nowhere near where those two clubs are in terms of budget and the amount of experience and depth they have in their squads.
“If I am focussing on the positives, then we have tried certain things, they haven’t worked and we’ve learnt from that and made changes. It’s better doing that now than three months down the line in the middle of the season.
“I am still confident that we can have a positive season and the game against West Wales on Sunday is a critical game for that reason.”
BARROW RAIDERS coach Paul Crarey did not give his side any time off despite not having a game at the weekend.
“There are a tough two weeks coming up, so we won’t be letting anyone off,” Crarey told the North West Evening Mail.
“We had to train Tuesday last week because the Furness Raiders were playing on Wednesday.
“We were then in on Friday as well.
“We run twice a week to save money on the travellers because that’s where we are at this club at the moment, as I’m trying to cut our cloth accordingly.
“It’s really worked because they’ve come in fresh on Wednesday and Friday, and Friday is a good night because they get the weekend and the Saturdays off with their families.
“They look real sharp across the board, they’re enjoying it and it’s a good environment to work in. We’ve never had any trouble, in the time I’ve been here, with the players because they’re a great group.”
DONCASTER forward Ryan Dixon returned to action against West Wales Raiders in the club’s last league game after almost a year out with a shoulder injury.
And all his hard work in rehab was worth it after getting much more time on the field than he could have ever imagined.
“I’ve done the rehab and the game was a big test,” he told the club website.
“We were looking at 25 minutes and I ended up playing about 60 so I can’t complain.
“I started last season really well and everyone was happy with how things were going, so it was a real shame to be out for so long.
“These things happen in sport and I’m back now, so hopefully we can push on and make up for a bit of lost time.”
KEIGHLEY COUGARS director Kaue Garcia has publicly thanked the game of Rugby League for their acceptance of him and his husband getting involved in the club.
Garcia is married to Ryan O’Neill, the son of club Chairman Mick O’Neill.
“When we took over the club over a year ago, Ryan and I knew we would face some challenges, being a gay couple,” said Garcia, as he accepted The Bradford Sports Award prize for Professional Club of the Year.
“But the public was behind us and they supported what we were about. The fans, players and everyone was backing us up and that shows what this sport should be about.
“It’s should be about inclusion, no matter what your race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. It should be for everyone and it should be fun.”