Newcastle Thunder chairman Mick Hogan has confirmed the club should be in a position to reveal their new head coach as early as this week.
The club were left with the vacancy following Simon Finnigan’s decision to join Widnes Vikings.
After much interest in the Thunder role, Hogan believes they have found the perfect replacement as the club look to continue their development both on and off the pitch.
“We have been inundated with applicants and we’ve never formally advertised the role,” said Hogan.
“Were were disappointed to lose Simon, but we have now identified someone to take the job and we’ll be looking to make that announcement soon once everything is confirmed.
“We have got an agreement in principle, we now just need to get a contract in place.
“It’s going to be a really exciting appointment for us.”
Meanwhile the club have started revealing which players will be with the club in 2021.
One of those is new signing Calum Turner (right) from Castleford Tigers.
The-23 year-old joins Thunder having made 15 senior appearances for the Tigers and gives Thunder more options in the number one shirt and the goal-kicking role.
“I spoke with Kieran Gill quite a bit about the club and he loves it here,” said Turner.
“Also the club is trying to go in the right direction and get into the Championship and then further on from that, so it seems a great idea to sign.
“I played at Cas for six years and fortunately got to play Super League with them, but I can’t wait to join Newcastle and to get back to enjoying playing rugby.”
Director of rugby Denis Betts added: “Calum is a Super League standard player who harbours lots of ambition and a huge desire for success and shares the attitudes we have at the club.
“He’s a quality outside back, he can play at fullback, wing and even in the halves and he will bring further threat to our edges.
“He comes from a fantastic setup at Cas and I’m looking forward to him joining us for the new season.”
Meanwhile, Bob Beswick, Matty Wright and Lewis Young were already under contract for next year, but they have been joined in the squad by club stalwart Rhys Clarke, who has signed for a tenth season at the club, and academy graduate Alex Clegg.
Also returning to Kingston Park is Cumbrian Liam McAvoy, who has spent the last year living and playing in Australia. His previous stint at the club saw him play 74 games between 2017 and 2019.
COVENTRY BEARS have added one more player to their squad ahead of the new season, by snapping up promising youngster Jed Charlton from Newcastle Thunder.
Charlton, a Thunder Academy graduate, has played six first team games for the club since 2018, including one against the Bears earlier this year.
Bears coach Richard Squires was impressed by his performance that day and is looking forward to renewing much older acquaintances.
“He played back row against us in the first game of the season and tore us apart,” said Squires.
“But I knew of him before then as well because I used to coach him when I was at university in Newcastle. Strangely enough, I helped bring him up through the junior system at Gateshead Storm.
“That should be our squad complete now.
“We were close to signing Jacob Jones, who was with us in 2019, but London Broncos offered him a first team contract, which was something he couldn’t really turn down.
“That meant we needed an extra dimension in our front row and Jed will really add that.
“He’s still only young but he has been involved with a very good system at Newcastle. He comes highly rated and we’re very lucky to have been able to pick him up.”
WORKINGTON TOWN have taken advantage of Ottawa Aces deferred entry into League 1 by bringing three of their signings back to Derwent Park.
Former Town players Dec O’Donnell and Calvin Wellington, along with Jake Moore from Whitehaven had all agreed to join the Canadian outfit for 2021, but when they became available again, Workington acted quickly to snap them up.
The trio will be joined at the club by ex Bradford Bulls Academy and Newcastle Thunder utility forward, Jake Lightowler, who is also linking up with Chris Thorman’s men.
“I’m really happy with these four additions to the squad,” said Thorman.
“They bring experience, skill, commitment and flair to an already strong squad.
Earlier last week Town also announced the arrivals of former Whitehaven forward Jordan Thomson and hooker Matty Henson. from Egremont.
27-year-old Thomson made seven appearances from the bench in 2019 as Haven earned promotion to the Championship before returning to the community game, where he has most recently played for Kells.
Henson has represented England Lions from Under 17 level and captained England Lions at under 18’s and 21’s and featured in the open age tour of Fiji in 2018.
KEIGHLEY COUGARS chairman Mick O’Neill believes the club’s latest signing is reminiscent of some of those made when the club were enjoying they heyday almost three decades ago.
Nineteen-year old local lad Bobby Darbyshire has signed a one-year deal at Cougar Park following a spell at Super League outfit Wakefield Trinity.
The utility back was born in the town and is a product of Keighley Albion, and it was whilst there he was spotted and signed up by Wakefield for their academy side ahead of the 2019 season.
He went on to become a regular for the Trinity Under-19’s side and also made a three appearances in the reserves side, one of which was against the Cougars.
But with Reserves structure now disbanded as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Cougars became aware of Darbyshire’s availability and quickly snapped him up – initially on trial and now permanently for 2021.
“I am very pleased to welcome Bobby to the club as our latest signing,” said O’Neill.
“He is a homegrown Keighley lad and another product of the system at Keighley Albion, and I believe the more the merrier when it comes to players from both the town, and Albion, pulling on a Cougars jersey.
“Bobby also has the experience of coming through a Super League academy set-up too which I believe will make him very valuable to the club and a leading light as he continues to develop.
“He is a very exciting young player, and will provide value to the squad as he can play at a number of positions across the backline.
“This particular addition reminds me of Cougarmania back in the 90’s when we would sign both exciting young players and experienced heads to lead them both on and off the field, which provided a great mixture in the dressing room.
“I am now looking forward to seeing Bobby take to the field and help get this club back to where it belongs, which is in the Championship.”
BARROW RAIDERS coach Paul Crarey believes the club would be more than capable of holding their own back in the Championship, should they get promoted back into the second tier.
“We used our budget as a top end League 1 club and have bought well, so we could certainly compete if we went back up,” said Crarey.
“We were unbeaten in the League in the games we played in 2020, including when we went to Doncaster, who were one of the favourites along with us, and won. We also went really close against Featherstone, a top Championship club, in the Challenge Cup
“We’ve improved from then with some greatly experienced players and can now push on even more.
“Also, we chose not to go down the dual reg route in order to build our own team and keep the club sustainable. Other teams have relied heavily on dual reg and are now having to rebuild. That’s another reasons I feel we could compete in the Championship.”
ROCHDALE HORNETS have confirmed that they will be applying to become the 14th team in the Championship in 2021.
As well as all the work the board continue to do off the field to grow the club and game around the town, the club feel they are more than equipped on the field to compete in the second tier once again.
“During the summer era Hornets have spent the majority of the time at Championship level, including notable success,” read an extract from an official club statement.
“During that period Hornets had a spell of finishing in the top three of the second tier for three consecutive seasons, with four-figure average attendances in each of them.
“The current owners of the club have started the process of reigniting that potential both in the club and the town of Rochdale, which has a population of 218,000.
“Now steered by an ambitious and experienced new board headed by chairman Andy Mazey, the club has assembled a quality line-up for 2021 including Fuifui Moimoi, Sean Penkywicz and Shaun Ainscough. The likes of Rob Fairclough, Josh Jordan-Roberts, Danny Yates, Gavin Bennion and Joe Taira have all stepped down from Championship clubs to join us, excited about the vision laid out in front of them by the directors.
“Our Crown Oil Arena home meets Super League standards – with a capacity of over 10,000 – and successfully hosted a sell-out 2013 Rugby League World Cup game between Fiji and Ireland, yet another indication of the town’s considerable potential.
“In conclusion, we believe that Rochdale Hornets is a Championship club in all but name at present – and would significantly add to the competition on and off the field in 2021.”
DONCASTER chief executive Carl Hall is happy to let the process of finding the 14th Championship run it’s natural course and see the best option rewarded with promotion ahead of the new season.
Clubs have received the list of criteria that they must be able to fulfil to apply to become the 14th club in the Championship in 2021.
While Hall is confident Doncaster fulfil the criteria set out by the RFL, he is well aware many other clubs also do.
“We will definitely be applying,” said Hall.
“And we wish all the clubs that apply the very best as we allow the process to take place.
“There are some great clubs in this league so good luck to whoever is applying and congratulations to whoever goes up.”
HUNSLET chairman Kenny Sykes has confirmed the club will not be making a bid to be promoted to the Championship ahead of the new season.
The knock-on effect of a Championship team replacing Toronto Wolfpack in Super League, is that League 1 clubs that fulfil certain criteria can apply to become the 14th club in the second tier.
“Hunslet will not be applying,” said Sykes, who is happy for the club to stay where they are for now and earn promotion with on-field performances.
“We do not meet all the criteria set out by the RFL in terms of average crowd and a top-four finish in 2018 or 2019.
“To be honest we are not overly disappointed with this as we are confident we have assembled a squad that will be challenging for promotion on the field in 2021.
“We also believe that winning games with an exciting brand of rugby will give us a strong foundation from which to grow our supporter base.
“We feel that we deserve as much consideration for promotion as any other club in League 1, and we must use this as motivation to secure our place in the Championship through our performances on the pitch.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS coach Anthony Murray has said the current Kilimanjaro challenge has brought a renewed sense of unity to the club.
Throughout November, players, coaches, directors and sponsors are counting the miles as they look to collectively cover the 4,522 miles that separates Wrexham from the mountain in the aim of raising as much funds as possible for Nightingale House hospice.
They are currently over half-way through the challenge and for Murray it has been a nice way to focus everyone’s minds as they await confirmation of when pre-season training can finally begin.
“We’re racking up plenty of miles and I have blisters on my feet,” joked Murray.
“It’s going really well and all the guys have been buying into it. The response we’ve had has been brilliant.
“We’re all on the Strava group and have a bit of a leader board up there.
“Everyone is getting out there and doing their 15 miles a week – whether that’s walking, cycling, running they’re all doing their bit.
“It’s giving us all a new focus, which has been really good. All the lads are giving each other a bit of banter over who’s doing what and where.
“Every day something is being posted on the group which has helped bring that social interaction back a bit more.
“So, it’s a great challenge for us all to be involved with.”
LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman is hopeful he will have some answers sooner rather than later about when, and where, his players can get back to training.
The club use the facilities at their home ground New River Stadium for training as well, but as that is council owned it may not be a suitable venue for the club during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
“It seemed like we were moving in the right direction and we were in a position where we were going to start signing some players on and get the ball rolling, but obviously being sent into another lockdown which has held things up a little bit,” said Coleman.
“We’re also waiting to hear back from the council as to what access we’ll be able to get to be able to train.
“For now, it’s a case of wait and see on that and where we stand with the guidelines we’ll have to follow.
“We’re also awaiting guidelines from the RFL as to when we can get back, but hopefully all that will become clearer in the next couple of weeks.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Aaron Wood believes a slightly later start to the season than normal could work in the club’s favour.
The RFL have pencilled in a potential return date for League 1 for the Easter weekend, which will hopefully tie in with a return for crowds, with 1895 Cup games played behind closed doors in March.
“For the players it will be good for us to get a bit more time together,” Wood told Raiders TV.
“In previous years it has been a bit of a problem down here to get all the boys in for the start of the season, so it’s a positive for us that we will have more time to build together.
“We have loyal supporters here so it will be different running out initially to no clapping from them, but well be doing our best to go out and win for them
“We’re definitely going to be training harder this year and we’re going to be fitter and more skilful. But I’ve always said to the boys that’ve got to be enjoying it and they have to want to be here and play for the Raiders.
“If we can put all these elements together, I’m confident we can get some wins.”
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