Hunslet coach Gary Thornton has confirmed the club will be adding a few more names to their squad as a result of the decision to abandon dual registration deals in 2021.
The ongoing Covid-19 situation means it would be unsafe to have players training with two different clubs at the same time and switching between club environments during the week.
“I am reasonably happy with what we have, but we have a couple of additions still to come in,” said Thornton.
“We were in the process of continuing the dual registration agreement with Halifax, but with that now being scrapped we need to look at bringing in a couple of extra players to cover that scenario.
“We had highlighted a couple of Halifax players that would have been made available to us throughout the year, but that won’t happen now so we have to bolster the squad a little bit because we don’t have that luxury any more.
“We only have Simon Brown and Dom Brambani in the halves so we need some cover there with a player who can also cover 13 if needs be.
“We will possibly also look for another middle unit player and some cover at pivot.
“We’re quite well covered in backs, and I am also talking to a few players that might return to the game and help us out there.
“I’m not a massive fan of dual registration, but love it or hate it, it does give clubs like ourselves who operate on a small budget, a comfort blanket that we know we can partner with an established club with some great players that we can benefit from when we need them.
“But I fully understand the reasons behind getting rid of it.
“We now just need to look at contingencies and bolster the squad when players become available that fit into our budget and will fit into the team spirit we have within our group.”
LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman has praised the work done by Iliess Macani during the game’s coronavirus lockdown.
The 26-year-old outside back is a personal trainer by profession, and he has been putting those skills to good use by helping his team mates stay fit during their enforced break from the game.
“There has been a number of them that have still been training and working out as small groups,” said Coleman.
“A few of the guys are personal trainers so they’ve been in the gym doing different things in their groups.
“Those guys have stepped up a little bit to help the others out over the last few months.
“Iliess is one of them and he has done an amazing job.
“He has been training with some of the lads that were out injured and putting on sessions for others. He has continually been updating the group in terms of conditioning and what they can be doing by setting exercises and workouts for them.
“He played a huge role in the start of pre-season last year and has continued to do that and build on it.
“Aside from his playing background, he has a fantastic future in coaching and strength and conditioning.
“He is a massive asset to our group.”
BARROW RAIDERS coach Paul Crarey has said he could still bring in more new faces ahead of next season.
The Raiders have already caught the eye by bringing in Shaun Lunt, Adam Walne and Ben Harrison, while the retention of their current squad continues with Bradd Crellin, the latest to pen a new one-year deal.
But Crarey might not be stopping there, with the club in a healthy position to strengthen further.
“We’ve still got some money left in the pot for players if they become available,” said Crarey.
“We’d like to bring in another centre if we can get one. We have some lads there at the moment, but we need that position to be healthy and have competition for places.
“We also have a trialist looking to come in and work with us. He’s played at a good level, was a junior at St Helens and then went off to play rugby union.
“But he’s been doing some training with Jordan Walne, who sent us some videos and recommend him so we’ll give him a chance in the pre-season games.”
DONCASTER chief executive Carl Hall has said being part of a larger organisation has helped them, when it comes to making sure their facilities are up to the necessary standard to return to training and playing.
Club Doncaster comprises of the Dons, plus soccer teams Doncaster Rovers and Doncaster Belles, the ladies team, with all three clubs based at the Keepmoat Stadium.
“We don’t just ground share with the football teams, we are one club together,” said Hall.
“That is fantastic for us as we all muck in and do it together.
“Whatever measures they have already put in place, we can slipstream what we have to do straight into what they are doing.
“Being one club makes it a hell of a lot easier to get ready to getting back into action.
“But also I don’t have to get myself into the full details of all that because there are people at the club who are taking care of that side of things, leaving me to focus more on the financial side of Doncaster RLFC and making sure we have funds to pay everyone and keep us going.”
Meanwhile, on the field, hooker Harry Carter has signed a new one-year deal with the club.
The 26-year-old joined the club ahead of 2020 and and made four appearances prior to the season being cut short.
“We saw briefly just what Harry brings to the team and how much of a threat he is from dummy-half,” added Hall.
“Hopefully when the new campaign starts he can demonstrate more of that and on a more consistent basis.”
The club have also completed the signing of forward Liam Johnson, who won promotion from League 1 with Bradford Bulls in 2018 and has since been with Dewsbury Rams.
KEIGHLEY COUGARS coach Rhys Lovegrove has said it was an easy decision to offer Aaron Levy a contract extension at the club.
The forward was already committed to the club until the end of 2021, but a number of impressive performances over the past couple of years has seen the Cougars Scholarship graduate become a crucial part of Lovegrove’s side, that he did not want to lose.
Following a spell in the community game, Levy returned to the club ahead of the 2018, and later that year was handed his first team debut against the Hemel Stags.
“Over the last two seasons, Aaron has really developed and made himself a mainstay within the side,” said Lovegrove.
“He is now one of the first on the team sheet every week and I’m really looking forward to seeing him push and cement himself in a new look Keighley Cougars team for the 2021 season.
“Aaron does a lot of the things that often go unnoticed but when they’re not done have huge ramifications on a team’s performance. These are vital for any Rugby League team to be consistent and maintain success.
“Azza has a bright future ahead of him and I am looking forward to seeing him continue to develop over the next two years.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS have taken advantage of a lack of Reserves action next year to tempt Alex Eckley back to the club.
The 21-year-old came through the academy system at St Helens, before making nine appearances for the Crusaders in 2019. But, after making an impression on coach Anthony Murray, Eckley decided to return to St Helens in order to feature in the Reserves competition.
But with that now on the back-burner due to the current global health crisis, the prop quickly decided where he wanted to spend the next phase of his career.
“I’m really happy to be back as it was tough to leave in the first place,” admitted Eckley.
“As soon as I heard the reserves division wouldn’t be going ahead next season, the first club I had in mind was Crusaders and we got the deal done as soon as I spoke to Muzza (Murray).
“When I left, so did a lot of the more senior players who had brilliant careers, but it’s great to see a lot of young players coming through.
“Hopefully, I can secure a regular place in the team and help the club in their aim to make those play-off spots.”
The club have also signed hooker Callum Wood from Widnes Vikings.
“I spoke to Tim Sheens (former Widnes coach) about Callum and he’s a player he rated very highly so that tells you all you need to know about him.
“He’s young and will give us more options at hooker so it’s a really positive deal for us to get done.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS chairman Peter Tiffin has said the signing of Gavin Henson has got people talking about the club for the right reasons.
“When we first entered League 1 every conversation I had on a Monday morning was about the result and the score line we were on the wrong end of,” said Tiffin.
“It got quite annoying if I’m honest. But recently, every conversation has been about Gavin,
“People want to know how we did it, if he will play well, who else is coming in. It has been a fantastic response and exactly what we wanted.
“We’ve always had positive comments about how we, as a club, are trying to build off the pitch and the work we continue to do to grow the sport in Wales. But now, it’s nice to hear some positivity about what we’re trying to achieve on the pitch.
“We know it’s not an easy task to go from a 144-0 loss to York in 2018 to trying to compete against teams that have been around for years, but our targets are high this year and hopefully we’re going to some way to reaching them.”
Elsewhere, the club have continued their signings for 2021 with the capture of Wales Students forward Charley Bodman and England Universities back Michael Holden, while Scotland international Sam Herron and longest serving player Archie Snook have re-signed.
ROCHDALE HORNETS chairman Andy Mazey has said he won’t be rushed into making any further signings as he looks to keep the club in a strong position during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“We are still talking to a few potential signings but we have to be prudent about additional spends when there are still so many unknowns.
“We don’t know when the season is going to start or what the competition will look like.
“The budget is pretty loose at the moment and once we have to add testing costs that will change.
“We can’t really justify additional spends at the moment, but we’ve not written anything off in terms of bringing anyone else in.
“Matt (Calland – coach) has got everything he wanted to do done and the squad is ready to go. If something came along that Matt felt could improve his squad and was significantly better than what he’s already got then we’ll make a decision on that.
“If we get closer to the start time and the situation is a bit clearer, the we will have a better idea what we can do.”
NEWCASTLE THUNDER coach Simon Finnigan has said local and national restrictions will be a factor when it comes to getting his side back into training for the new season.
As with all clubs at this level, Thunder are still awaiting details of next season before planning pre-season, but Finnigan is aware that it might not be feasible to return in November as usual.
“We always look at getting back in in November, and at the moment that would be the ideal for us,” said Finnigan.
“It will be nice to finally get them all back together, but I know in grassroots football they are putting new restrictions in place so we’ll just have to wait and see what we can and can’t do over the next few weeks.
“The situation is changing all the time still and at the moment it’s seems to be coming back to being stricter again.
“So without knowing when we can get back in I’ve not started looking at any plans in detail yet.”
COVENTRY BEARS head coach Richard Squires has said the club are looking to tap into the local rugby union market to add further names to their squad.
“We’ve had a few people approach us that are from union backgrounds who want to give our game a go,” said Squires.
“Some changes have come into rugby union that can work in our favour so there will be a couple of guys on trial with us that have played for or been in the systems of Premiership clubs in this area.
“We’ve never tapped into this area before but union got issued a statement saying that no one can be paid outside the top two leagues which creates an opportunity for us and for blokes who want to test themselves in a new game.
“We’re right on the doorstep of some clubs down here and we want to be in a position down the line where, if we do run a reserves or get juniors going, we need to be in position to catch anyone that falls out of the catchment of these clubs.
“A lot of talent falls out of that game that does not get picked up and we need to be able to offer them something.”
WORKINGTON TOWN‘s returning centre Perry Singleton has backed the decision to drop scrums from Super League games and would support the move if it was brought in across the whole game next season.
Speaking on BBC Radio Cumbria Sport Singleton said: “The new rules have sped the games up.
“It is a quicker game now without scrums.
“I have been watching Super League and been impressed with that rule. The modern day scrum does just slow down the game and it is just a restart. So why not speed it up, keep the ball in play and keep the game going.
“I wouldn’t argue if they did bring that rule in next year as well, but it is tradition for rugby to have a scrum. So it will be interesting to see the way they go but I am impressed with the new rules.”
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