Betfred League 1 news round up

Newcastle Thunder coach Simon Finnigan believes it is important that some kind of promotion and relegation system remains in place if and when the season gets back underway.
Clubs below Super League are currently aiming for a return to action in late August, although this is likely to mean a reduced structure, leaving open the question of whether the RFL would deem it significant enough to warrant promotion off the back of it.
“We still don’t have a definitive start date, but if you look back two weeks a start date wasn’t even looking likely,” said Finnigan.
“But things are always changing, and I hope that an August date is realistic.
“When it does come back, I want the competition to be something to play for.
“The integrity of the competition needs to come into it.
“I would want there still to be promotion to play for and from what I have seen a lot of people are talking about it, rather than flat-out refusing it.
“People are trying to make it work.
“I don’t think anyone should get relegated from Super League, but on the other hand, I do think promotion should remain.
“I’m sure there would be a way to work something out so that there is still something to play for across the competitions.
“Discussions are taking place to find a solution and everyone is willing to discuss every option, which is great to see.”

DONCASTER centre Sam Smeaton says he had no hesitation about getting involved when he was approached to take part in a 30-hour static bike challenge.
The 31-year-old was among a number of current and former players from across the game that took part in the ride to raise money for Rugby League Cares and the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association.
The challenge saw the participants saddle up for 30 straight hours, with only toilet breaks when needed, while wives and partners had to feed them while they were peddling.
The aim was to beat the previous World Record of 28 hours of static cycling, set by 25 people in a spin studio in 2019.
Many players have been inspired to dig deep for the MND Association since Rugby League legend Rob Burrow was diagnosed with the disease in December, and Smeaton is no exception.
“Everything was hurting in the days after I finished the challenge,” admitted Smeaton.
“My head was fuzzy and my legs were sore, but I was really proud to be a part of it.
“I don’t think I fully knew what I was letting myself in for when Keith Senior got in touch and asked if I wanted to get involved.
“I like a challenge and I like to do my bit where I can. The guys needed to get the numbers up to attempt the world record and Keith knew that my dad had loaned me a Watt Bike to use during lockdown, so he asked if I wanted to jump on board.
“Rob has been great for this game. He’s from the same area as I am, and my partner is a friend of Rob’s sisters, so being able to get behind this and support him was definitely a motivating factor.
“It also gave me something to focus on and that was another reason I wanted to do it. It’s weird when no one knows when we can get back to training.
“I only knew Keith and Wayne Godwin when I joined up, but soon Tim Spears joined us and I know him from my time at Featherstone.
“Not everyone who took part knew each other. We were all from different backgrounds, but we all got on board for a good cause.
“We were on a live Zoom call the whole time. There were some quiet times from everyone, but also times when we were all having a laugh together.
“Then as we got to the end of the challenge we were all able to help pull each other on to see it through.”

HUNSLET coach Gary Thornton has said a recent easing of lockdown rules is allowing some members of his squad to finally train together again for the first time in over two months.
In England, a group of up to six people can now meet up outdoors, whilst maintaining social distancing.
For Thornton, this is an important step as he looks to slowly bring the team environment back to training.
“We have already been trying to facilitate some small groups meeting up and doing some training together,” said Thornton.
“Our conditioner is looking at getting groups of three or four guys together to do some work.
“There is still very little you can do in terms of structure, but you can do a bit of skills stuff as well as general fitness.
“But the other thing is just getting some contact with each other again. I don’t mean physical contact, but just being able to train together.
“They have WhatsApp groups and we have been doing things on Zoom. It’s very limited but the face-to-face contact and banter is very important in Rugby League and the sooner we can get back to that, the better.”

WORKINGTON TOWN coach Chris Thorman has said that the game here should not draw too much from the way the NRL has returned to action in recent weeks.
The game in Australia has made a successful return behind closed doors, but Thorman recognises that is a different situation down under that has allowed this to happen.
“As a fan, I am pleased that the NRL is back,” said Thorman.
“But we need to remember that it is a different continent.
“How Australia and New Zealand have handled the pandemic is irrelevant, when you look at our population.
“I have watched a lot of the Fox and Channel Nine programmes and seen how things have been done and how Peter V’landys has handled things.
“It seems like they have got a lot of things right, but obviously it’s a different situation in terms of where the country is, the population of Australia and also the money they have to spend on the game.”

NORTH WALES CRUSADERS have stepped up their training in recent weeks after talks suggested they may be able to return to playing by late August.
“We’ve been having Zoom sessions on a Thursday, but heading into June we want to step that up,” said head coach Anthony Murray.
“We asked them to use the Strava running App on Tuesdays and the response from them to that and the results have been really pleasing.
“What we’re doing is giving them a good balance, which they can still achieve whilst being back at work or getting ready to go back.
“Now we have a potential start date we’ve upped what they are doing. Then as we move into July we’ll up things again, whilst still working within Government guidelines.”

COVENTRY BEARS coach Richard Squires has said the club is looking at alternative facilities for when they finally get the go-ahead to return to training.
The club moved to a new training ground at Warwick School over the winter, but this will be likely to be unsuitable to use while the current global health crisis is still ongoing.
“There are plans in place for getting the game back, but the most difficult thing for us will be our training situation,” said Squires.
“We’re based in a school and one of the government guidelines released by the RFL is that the training ground can’t have any public access.
“That means a change of venue for us.
“We also have to be able to provide showers for the players after training, so that is something we need to factor in.
“We’re looking at a couple of different options – one that we used last year, and another that’s new to us. But one of them is government-run, so that’s still shut completely for now.
“Cost is another factor we have to consider, because for some places the cost is through the roof for a 4G pitch.
“But it needs to be sufficient for the guys to get something out of it. We could all go to a local park and do some training, but it needs to be a professional environment to keep them safe and we can get strict outcomes out of it.”

WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Aaron Wood has said the launch of the club’s Wheelchair Rugby League team is just one step in the long term plans for the club.
The Raiders have linked up with the already successful Ebbw Vale team and will look at ways to grow the wheelchair game in south & west Wales by using the Raiders brand.
“This really shows what we are trying to turn the club into,” said Wood.
“When I joined at the start of the year we had a plan that we wanted to expand and build.
“We’re slowly getting there.
“If we want to be taken seriously as a business model we need to set our bases up and get other teams involved with us.
“The next stage will probably be a Women’s team and then hopefully we’ll get an Academy team going as well.
“All the strong clubs in the game have these other teams involved and we want to build that club environment here.
“We’re doing it steadily and have plans to continue it, because we don’t want to be a club that does these things for one year. We want longevity and we have the budget in place for that.”

LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman has admitted it has been difficult for his players to stay motivated to train on their own while there are no clear indications as to when the League 1 season will resume.
It is hoped that the season may start again in late August, but until they have that confirmed, Coleman knows his payers will continue to find it tough.
“It’s been difficult for the boys to have put in all that hard work in pre-season and then get to the start of the season and have it disrupted by the weather, only ending up playing two games before it stopped again,” Coleman told the OuRLeague League 1 podcast.
“They’ve found it frustrating – more so now. Initially, they were pretty keen and all guns blazing to keep training and doing what they needed to do.
“But the motivation is falling down a bit now. I think that is probably down to a bit of a lack of communication and lack of knowledge as to whether the season is going to start again or be postponed.
“We’re all a little in the dark so finding the motivation for players is difficult.
“They are furloughed, so no direct instructions can come from me, although there is an expectation that they do their training themselves.
“Some senior players have taken a bit of responsibility for that, but it’s tough.
“We just need some clarity now, but hopefully we can take some momentum from other sports and get back to training and doing something proactive.”

KEIGHLEY COUGARS Chairman Mick O’Neill has claimed that the club is in a strong financial position and that more income could come into the club when lockdown is eased.
“We made a plan for this virus and we’ve made sure the players are getting paid,” O’Neill told the Keighley News.
“There were regimes where that didn’t happen and we didn’t want the club to make a name for itself like that. It’s not their fault (the players) that they’re not playing.
“I’m not sure how exactly the RFL bailout is working, but we’ve not had to touch that.
“We’ve got a good team now and we’re already planning for next year.
“Besides (signing) players, we’re targeting a new stand, because it’s falling apart.
“What we’re after too is a sporting complex down here.
“That would be for us, the bowls club and the cricket club. We’ve had a word with the cricket club and they’re all for it.”

ROCHDALE HORNETS centre Ben Calland believes history can repeat itself as the club looks to continue its rebuild under the incoming Chairman Andy Mazey and his consortium.
Mazey, and a number of directors, left Swinton Lions late last year shortly before taking over at Hornets.
“When I was at Oldham last year I was on the outside looking in at Swinton and thinking what’s happening here,” Calland told Rochdale’s ‘Repeat Set’ Podcast.
“They took off out of nowhere, their social media was through the roof and they put in some massive performances on the pitch, finishing mid-table in the Championship. They were playing really good Rugby League.
“When I joined the club I didn’t know Andy was going to be coming in and the club was going to take off as much as it has in a short space of time.
“So we had high expectations when he came in here and he’s delivered so far on everything.
“It means it’s now an attractive club for players to join.”