Barrow Raiders have reunited the Walne brothers for 2021, with Adam joining the club from Huddersfield Giants, as anticipated in last week’s League Express, and Jordan extending his current deal at Craven Park.
The pair previously played alongside each other at Salford Red Devils between 2013 and 2017 and will now be back together for another two years.
Playing at the same club is a perfect fit for them both after they recently set up a business together to boost the local community’s physical and mental health through exercising within closed indoor spaces.
“I’m entering a point of transition in my career earlier than I once would have thought,” said Adam.
“I’m a big believer in following your path and trusting your inner compass and I have recently been faced with some difficult decisions about my future, with various offers coming in. It was never going to be an easy decision.
“Having recently founded the ‘Raw&Outdoor’ conditioning club with Jordan, it’s been impossible for me to have the input and involvement in the business while being full time with rugby.
“It’s very frustrating having loads of ideas and plans but not having any time to make them happen.
“A large percentage of players have nothing to fall back on for life after rugby. So I have decided that moving to part-time rugby for next season would be the smartest decision. Jordan and I need to be on the same schedule to grow the business into what we want it to be for our long-term future.
“Playing alongside Jordan again, which we both thought we might not get the chance to do, would be too special to turn down.”
NEWCASTLE THUNDER coach Simon Finnigan has said this year there will be an off-season like no other.
Thunder went into the 2020 season with high hopes of gaining promotion to the Championship, but those aims were dashed when the season was shut down by the Covid-19 pandemic.
With Ottawa now coming into the league for 2021 and spending big on their squad, as well as many other big-names signings coming in elsewhere in the league, the competition for those promotion spots will be tougher then ever.
But Finnigan knows there will be lots of things to focus on before the season starts again next year, other than simply getting the right squad in place.
“We’re effectively in the off-season now and it’s going to be a very different one this year,” said Finnigan.
“If you take Ottawa out of the equation, who clearly have a big budget and haven’t been restricted by everything that has gone on this season, most clubs will still have an eye on how this year has effected them moving forward.
“It’s not going to be as simple as having an off-season where you have a budget and want to get the best for it.
“There are lots of other factors to consider and a lot to take on board. Lots of things will need to be balanced.
“We’ve not even looked ahead yet to when pre-season might even start. Even then there are going to be restrictions in place on how we go about a return to training.
“That’s all going to have to be sorted out before we start thinking about when we bring the guys back in.”
COVENTRY BEARS‘ will have a slight new look on the coaching front next year, with current first-team coach Richard Squires taking on the role of head coach, to be assisted by Dave Scott, who will join the club in a player-coach role.
The winger or fullback, who has signed from Batley Bulldogs, will take his first step on the professional coaching ladder, whilst also adding some extra experience to the Bears’ playing squad.
“I am delighted to be joining Coventry Bears for 2021,” said the Scotland International.
“I certainly didn’t expect to be undertaking a coaching role at this stage in my career. I had the option to stay in Championship, but these opportunities don’t come along too often so I couldn’t turn it down.
“I’m really excited to get stuck in and face the challenges which it will entail.”
On his own promotion, Squires said: “I look forward to, and am excited by, the challenges ahead in terms of making this club a serious competitor within League 1.
“The club has a long and proud history in Rugby League, having been founded on a strong work ethic and family values.
“This is something I have always wanted to do and it’s a great opportunity for me.
“Working with lads gave me my first taste of League 1 coaching and I’m now looking forward to building a team with Alan Robinson that can continue to turn some heads and compete week in, week out.
“It allows me to continue my coaching development. With me being the youngest coach in the competition it allows me to compete against some guys who have been at the top of the game and I am excited for that challenge.”
The Bears have also announced the 16 players from their 2020 squad that will remain with them next year.
Those who have re-signed are: Hayden Freeman, Reece Rance, Liam Welham, Nathan Hill, Brad Sheridan, Sandy Rae, Kadeem Williams, Doug Chirnside, Will Budd, Darius Hamilton, Harry Kaufman, Chris Cullimore, Leon Harber, Peter Ryan, Will Tully and Ryan Langton.
KEIGHLEY COUGARS have handed another local youngster a chance to impress at first-team level after signing 22-year-old Morgan Robinson.
The backrower or centre impressed coach Rhys Lovegrove last year with his performances for the Cougars’ Reserves team and ultimately went on to be named Reserves Player of the Year at the end-of-season awards night.
The Keighley Albion product was subsequently invited for a trial with the first team prior to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Robinson now joins Aaron Levy, Alfie Seeley, and Jordan Aitchison as locally-born talent that will run out at Cougar Park in 2021.
“Morgan is a really quiet and humble kid and when I invited him to train with the first team he made a real impact amongst the group,” said Lovegrove.
“His size, athleticism, and raw ability will see him fit well into the systems I am implementing here at the Keighley Cougars, even more so with how hard-working Morgan is.
“The addition of Morgan adds to our ever-growing talent pool of local product and this is something I am conscious of.
“Keighley Cougars is a club at the heart of the town and I feel it’s massively important in that respect that the pathway for local talent is on offer for players within our local community clubs who are good enough to play professionally.”
WORKINGTON TOWN coach Chris Thorman has said the philosophy behind building his squad will not change ahead of 2021.
Since his arrival at the club, Thorman has been very keen to give local talent a chance at this level and that will not change going into next year.
“The main thing for me is that I build a squad that has a core of West Cumbrians,” said Thorman.
“That’s important in order to be able to get a buy-in from the fans. They like it when they see local lads doing well.
“Even though that’s the main priority, they still have to be talented and tick a number of boxes in order to play for us in 2021.”
Thorman will now be on the lookout for replacements for three players who it has been announced have left the club.
Centre Calvin Wellington has taken up a full-time contract elsewhere in the game, while winger Elliott Hall is leaving in favour of a further education course at Leeds Beckett University. Meanwhile, utility back Russell Bolton has returned to the amateur ranks with Askam.
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS‘ all-time leading try-scorer Rob Massam was one of four players to sign deals with the club last week.
The winger, who joined the club initially in 2012 and then re-joined in 2019 after two seasons with Rochdale, has scored 122 tries in 135 appearances for the club. He will be joined in the squad by Jordan Penny, Matt Reid and new recruit Ben Morris, who featured in the 2017 World Cup for Wales.
“Rob has been a fantastic servant to the Crusaders over the years,” said Murray.
“You know exactly what you’re going to get from him. He keeps himself in great condition and never leaves anything out on the pitch.
“He’s an outstanding player at this level and a massive part of what we do here at Crusaders. I’m delighted we’ve got Rob for at least another years as he offers us so much.
“Jordan got a few games under his belt with us in 2019, but you could see the progress he’d made in 2020.
“If he can pick up where he left off and gain a bit more experience at this level, I think we may well have found another gem from the amateur game.
“We’re also delighted to bring Ben on board for next season. He’d fallen out of love with the sport a bit but, after speaking to a number of our players, he felt Crusaders were the club to get his career back on track.
“He already has a lot of experience under his belt at international level and that will be extremely valuable for us.
“Matt’s got a lot of experience at this level now and is somebody who knows the club well.
“He provides us with a lot of options and, if he can keep himself injury free, will continue to be an important player for us.
“The squad is coming together nicely ahead of 2021.”
HUNSLET have continued their retention for the 2021 season with prop Harry Kidd, fullback Jimmy Watson and hooker Nathan Conroy all signing new deals.
“I’m really pleased Harry has re-signed for another season,” said Thornton.
“He was unlucky to get injured just going into the break but, for him, the suspension of the season has been a blessing in disguise as it has given him time to fully recover and be ready to go for next season.
“He is a big unit in the middle of the field, and gives us some great go-forward with the ball with his direct running. He is defensively sound too. He is fit and athletic for a frontrower and, together with our other frontrowers, he will form a cornerstone of our pack and provide a great engine room to base our attacks on.
“Jimmy is Hunslet through and through, and an important part of our club. He has been a big fans’ favourite since his arrival back in 2013, and his loyalty to the cause cannot be faulted.
“He is a very popular member of the group, and can now be counted as one of our more experienced players. I’m looking forward to seeing him develop his partnership with Dom Brambani and Simon Brown as an attacking force, as we started to see some promising stuff last season before the campaign was curtailed.
“His is another important signing in getting the spine of the team sorted.
“Nathan is still a young man but has great experience playing at this level, and has been at some good clubs during his career. His speed out of dummy-half and his eye for a gap offers us a different dimension at hooker, and he will complement Vila really well in that area.”
DONCASTER forward Ross Peltier has become the first out-of-contract player to show his commitment to the club by signing a new one-year deal.
Since his move from Bradford Bulls ahead of this year, the 28-year-old crossed for two tries in four games before the season was abandoned and he becomes the eighth confirmed member of the Dons’ squad for 2021. Brad Foster, Sam Doherty, Matty Beharrell, Kieran Cross, Watson Boas, Sam Smeaton and Jason Tali are all still under contract for next season.
“We’re really pleased to have Ross with us for next season,” said chief executive Carl Hall.
“He showed glimpses of what he’s capable of in the early part of last season.
“We have fought off interest in him from several Championship clubs to keep him here for next season, and he will be a key part of the squad.
“Ross made it clear from quite early on that he wanted to stay here and repay the faith after the help the club gave to players during lockdown.”
ROCHDALE HORNETS have stayed local by adding two former Mayfield players to their ranks for next season.
Former England Students international Lee Registe, who has also played for Halifax reserves and Doncaster in recent years, is a new face to arrive at the Crown Oil Arena, while centre Jack Higginson has signed a new one-year deal with the club.
Coach Matt Calland previously worked with Registe, who is also a champion wrestler, at Hopwood Hall College, so he knows both of the latest recruits well.
“I am delighted that Lee has agreed to come next season,” said Calland.
“He has bags of pace and is very elusive and good on the floor because of his wrestling background.
“I’m looking forward to helping Lee reach his potential.
“Jack is another local lad that came through at Rochdale Mayfield then moved on to Wigan, where he was really unlucky with injuries.
“He is really strong and skilful and the best is yet to come from Jack.”
OTTAWA ACES have signed another player from Widnes Vikings ahead of their inaugural League 1 season.
Joining James Chapelhow, Ted Chapelhow, Sam Wilde and Pat Moran at the club is fullback Jack Johnson.
The 24-year-old started his career with Warrington Wolves in 2015 and spent time on loan with Rochdale Hornets and Widnes Vikings until signing for Featherstone Rovers in 2019. After one year there, he returned to Widnes on a permanent deal.
“Jack comes from a great system and he will add a lot to our squad with his experience, his speed and his tryscoring record,” said Toulouse coach Laurent Frayssinous.
“I am looking forward to seeing him around his team-mates for the start of the new season.”
LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman is hoping for a busy month ahead as he looks to crack on with his recruitment and retention for 2021.
With lots of questions still to be answered as to how the disruption of this year will impact on next, Coleman is hoping to be given the green light fairly soon to start getting his squad in place for when the games resume.
“I have been very active in talking to people and looking to get people on board,” Coleman told the RFL’s League 1 Podcast.
“Like in the last couple of years there are lots of people interested in what he have on offer in London and the project we have in place. But ultimately, because it is in London, it always comes down to finances.
“The board have been meeting over the last couple of weeks to discuss their plans, their budget and what they’ve got to offer. Once that’s in place it can be passed down to me and I can start making offers to people.
“The aim for us to have our squad wrapped up and in place by the end of September, so that they have a month to get their heads around hopefully getting back into pre-season training at the end of November.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Aaron Wood believes the club is in a much better position, both on and off the field, than it ever has been before.
“We currently have around 20 players that have agreed terms, so we just need to get them signed,” said Wood.
“We have a good base there and are still in the market for a couple more key players.
“It’s good for us to have a squad in place before pre-season starts compared to last year, when I arrived in December and it was a race against the clock just to get a team in place.
“Everyone is working really hard behind the scenes to get the quality in and players all working hard to stay fit. They know that when come back it won’t be the old Raiders any more – they’ll be coming to a new Raiders, with a new philosophy.
“With everything that’s being done, the club is in the best position is has been since it started.”
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