Rochdale Hornets Chairman Andy Mazey has said he would back the introduction of the win percentage system into the league next year, if it meant that his club could be part of a strong and meaningful competition.
But he says any decision on that should be taken before the season kicks off.
Super League introduced the new system for determining the league table last month after it became clear that positive Coronavirus tests might prevent teams from all playing the same number of games.
“I am hopeful that the RFL can get a meaningful League 1 season played next year,” said Mazey.
“But we would all be naive and foolish to think that we’ll get to the end of March, when we will hopefully be allowed crowds again, and it will be business as usual again.
“It won’t be.
“There will inevitably have to be a change in the way we think and the way the game looks. That might mean a move to see the win-percentage come into our league too, as it has with Super League recently.
“There will be different pressures on part-time players compared to Super League, so we’ve got to stay in the real world and be realistic.
“Win-percentage will be the fairest way. Whether it’s in the Championship or League 1, clubs are going to have a lot riding on promotion and relegation so we have to set the criteria and stick with it.
“Whatever we decide on, it needs to be in place before the season starts. I don’t think we should be changing half way through the year like Super League has had to.
“Lay out the criteria from day one and say this is what we’re playing to.
“That way, we can still have a meaningful season and promotion can still be available.”
BARROW RAIDERS coach Paul Crarey has called for clubs to be given some clarity over when the 2021 season is likely to get underway.
Talks held last week discussed the possibility of an early March start for Championship and League 1, with the hope that fans can return to stadiums in April.
But until a final decision is made, the clubs are unsure about when they can bring their players back in for pre-season training.
“It’s alright having the squad in place, but we need to know when we can get back to training, what we can do in training and when the games are going to start,” said Crarey.
“If the start of the season is going to be delayed we don’t want to bring the guys back in too early.
“They have been training on their own since March, and we had thought about getting them back in a bit earlier then usual with talk of Cup games starting in December. But we still don’t know whether that will go ahead.
“There is lots of uncertainty and we just need something set in stone soon on when we will start and if it’s going to be behind closed doors or not. That will give us something to work towards and we can then try to find a way to prepare for it.
“If we are now looking to get back in early November as normal, that’s only a few weeks away, so we need to know what we’ll be doing.
“As a club, we will certainly be able to play behind closed doors if needed and we just want to play.”
HUNSLET have brought two new faces to the South Leeds Stadium, with Will Cooke returning to the club following his release from Keighley Cougars and Brad Hey joining from York City Knights.
The 23-year-old Cooke was originally with Gary Thornton’s side in 2018, scoring four tries in nine appearances, but he found his opportunities limited behind more established squad members Ben Heaton, Nathan Chappell and Mufaro Mvududu.
Centre or backrower Hey has chosen Hunslet over a number of other offers from elsewhere in the game.
“Will returns to the club with more experience under his belt after having had two decent seasons at Keighley,” said Thornton.
“He has a terrific attitude, he’s is highly committed to improving his game and I’m really pleased he is returning.
“Last time he was at the club he was still a young man, and he had competition in front of him from more experienced centres. As a result he didn’t really establish himself in the team, although whenever he did play at either wing, centre or even a spell at loose forward, he never let us down, so it’s a welcome return for him.
“He is very mature for such a young man, and is desperate to impose himself on the team and show people how good he can be.
“I’ve been a big admirer of Brad since he joined York from Castleford Tigers.
“He now has experience at Championship level too, and I was surprised but delighted when I heard of his availability. He has pace, strength, good skills, and a great level of professionalism.
“Brad will be a terrific addition to our group. His lines of running in attack have been well honed and he makes good decisions in defence; I’m really excited to see him in Hunslet colours.
“Whilst losing Josh Tonks and Ben Heaton to Championship clubs was a huge loss for us, signing Brad and Will more than compensates for their departures.”
KEIGHLEY COUGARS are now just waiting to hear back from three players responding to contract offers after hooker Billy Gaylor put pen to paper on a new deal last week.
Jack Arnold, Josh Lynam and Kieran Moran were offered terms at the same time as Gaylor, with the trio’s decisions still to be confirmed by the club.
Gaylor initially joined the club from Coventry Bears in 2018, but struggled to break into the side and was subsequently released from his contract to join amateur side Siddal. But when the Cougars hit financial difficulties later that year the 23-year-old returned and put in a number of strong performances that earned him a deal for 2019.
He went on to cement a regular first-team spot under coach Rhys Lovegrove, who has been so impressed by what he has seen from the player since then that it was an easy decision to offer him the chance to remain at the club.
“Billy is very much a product of the new Cougars’ system,” said Lovegrove.
“He knows exactly how we are looking to play on the field and will bring us competition both at hooker and in the halves.
“He brings energy, enthusiasm, and a strong desire to learn to the environment we have built here at the club.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him develop further, especially now we have players in the side such as Scott Murrell for Billy to learn from.”
Gaylor joins Dalton Desmond-Walker, Kyle Kesik, Dan Parker, Mo Agoro, Jordan Aitchison, Jack Coventry, Spencer Darley, Dan Hawksworth, Aaron Levy, Jack Miller, Jason Muranka, Taylor Prell, Alfie Seeley, Ben Stead, Jake Webster and Ryan Wright in remaining at the club next year.
Meanwhile the club have announced that Matthew Bailey, Will Cooke, Macauley Hallett, Benn Hardcastle, Ritchie Hawkyard, Steven Hayes, Louis Sheriff and Lewis Wray will leave the club at the end of their contracts next month, while Matt Welham has been released from the final year of his deal.
NEWCASTLE THUNDER coach Simon Finnigan has said the process of building his squad for 2021 has been vastly different to the process in other seasons.
“Usually when you are seeing the players on a day-to-day basis you can tick them off one by one,” sad Finnigan.
“But when doing them in bulk, as we are now, the process at the other end seems to take a bit longer.
“Most of the guys have agreed terms, so we’re not far off, but when you think about it we should only have just finished the season that we’ve missed out on, so we’re not under any pressure yet.
“Sorting contracts without seeing the players is a different way of doing it and I have found it difficult.
“Whether it’s good or bad news, I like to give it face to face because it feels better.
“Putting my player’s hat back on from a few years ago, it is always better if you are face to face with your coach and you get that contact.
“But it can’t be helped at the moment and it is frustrating. This could prove to be a new normal, so we just have to adapt and find a way to get on with it.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS chief executive Peter Tiffin has said the Army is proving a great source of recruitment for them as they look to build a strong squad for 2021.
Army centre Jamie Laing and prop Alex Hicken have both re-signed for the club and join the likes of Eparama Francis Boginisoko, Jefeti Vakalalabure and Emosi G Nadaubale in joining the club from that branch of the Armed Services.
“It’s a massively untapped area of the game for us,” said Tiffin.
“The Army is full of good players and they always get to early stages of the Challenge Cup. They then often produce a shock and beat an NCL club and then do well against a League 1 team.
“There are a great number of players there that can step up.
“But many that we’d like to sign are based away from Wales, and it’s down to them and their bosses to see if they can get them closer to us for playing and training.
Dafydd Phillips and Ash Bateman have also re-signed for the club for 2021.
LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman is hoping loyalty can play a big part in his squad building for 2021.
The situation arising from the Coronavirus pandemic has slowed down the usual recruitment process for the Skolars, who currently have no players contracted for next year.
“There are so many variables at the moment, which is making everything a much slower process than normal,” said Coleman.
“The board are still having conversations with the RFL about central funding and what that is going to mean for our budget. There are also conversations with the Broncos about what they’re doing and whether they’ll get the opportunity to be in Super League again or whether Toronto will still be in. That will affect what we can do as well.
“Because there are so many spinning plates we’re at the bottom of the pile in terms of getting any answers and being able to make decision on anything.
“Once we do know what is happening with the central funding, we’ll then need to factor in testing costs and how that effects the playing budget.
“There are so many pieces of the jigsaw still to fill in, so we’re still playing a bit of a waiting game.
“That might backfire on us a bit with a few people, but I’d like to think that 95 per cent of the team that was with me this year, and that have been with me for a number of years, will have enough loyalty to hang fire and at least give me the chance to offer them something before they make a firm decision on where they’ll be playing their rugby next year.”
DONCASTER chief executive Carl Hall is delighted with how easy it has been to retain a number of members of the 2020 squad, despite the Coronavirus pandemic having an impact on the club’s budget moving forward.
The latest players to agree new deals with the club are experienced forward Russ Spiers and young half-back Ben Howe.
The 29-year-old prop returned to the club for a second spell in 2017, and has made over 160 appearances during his time with the Dons.
“I am really happy with the guys we’re retaining and those we’re picking up,” said Hall.
“The players have all been very realistic in their contract discussions. They understand the situation and it’s pleasing to see that they are thinking about more than just the pay packet.
“We have fantastic facilities here and a lot of the boys love playing for the club. That goes a long way and hopefully, when we get back playing, they will have missed it so much they will be playing with a smile on their face.
“Russ has been with the club for a number of years now and he sets a great example to his team-mates on the field. He will never take a backward step.
“His fitness levels are a big factor in why we wanted him to stay; he has the longevity to play plenty of games next season.
“Ben is a committed young player who has done really well both in training and when he has taken to the field.
“He will learn a lot from the experienced players around him and hopefully implement the things he takes on board into his own game.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS utility star Ryan Millington has said he will continue to play wherever he is needed as he looks to add to his to his club appearances in 2021.
The 33-year-old, who returned to the club for a third time ahead of this year and featured four times before the season was cut short, has signed a new one-year deal.
“My aim is to always get in that 17, as I know Muzza (coach Anthony Murray) rotates the positions I play in,” said Millington.
“As long as I’m playing, I’m happy and everyone knows I’ll always give 100 per cent.
“As soon as I spoke to Andy Moulsdale (chief executive), it was all agreed straightaway and I can’t wait to build on what we started in 2020.
“We had a new team, but we started really well. It was only in the final game against Hunslet, when we were missing a few, that we didn’t perform.
“The aim for us has got to be the play-offs now. We just need to pick up where we left off when pre-season starts.”
Crusaders head coach Murray added: “I’m really pleased Milly has decided to stay with us for another year.
“He’s a really tough player in the middle and will always go above and beyond for the team.
“He gives us a lot of options in the forwards and has been in and around the game at this level for a long time now.”
COVENTRY BEARS have reunited two of the Welham brothers by signing experienced centre or backrower Matty Welham from Keighley Cougars.
With Liam Welham already at the Midlands club, the pair will play alongside each other for the first time since they both at Doncaster in 2016.
“Matt brings us some real threat in the outside backs,” said Bears’ coach Richard Squires.
“Having the chance to link up with his brother Liam was a huge attraction and with those two together they could cause a lot of damage against other teams.
“Matty is very versatile and gives us a number of options. He’s very unpredictable to play against and could not be happier to add him to our squad.”
WORKINGTON TOWN winger Alex Young and half-back or hooker Blain Marwood have become the latest members of Chris Thorman’s squad to commit to the club for next year.
“Alex showed in his short time with us what a valuable asset he can be,” said Thorman.
“He has his hunger back for the game and has a real desire to achieve success.
“He has all the attributes to be one of the league’s best outside backs and I’m looking forward to seeing what the team and Alex can achieve.
“With the new rule changes coming into effect recently and having watched how the NRL and Super League teams have adapted to them, I’ve had to think about how our squad would look when it comes to the evolution of our game. Re-signing Blain Marwood is an indicator of that.
“Blain’s game is based around speed and agility. I’ve worked hard with him on all defensive aspects of his game and if he continues to improve at the rate he was pre lockdown, I’m really excited to see him develop in a Town shirt.”
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