BARROW RAIDERS have added more Super League experience to their squad for 2021 with the signing of former Hull KR utility back Ryan Shaw.
The 28 year-old made 50 top-flight appearances with the Robins, on top of much more Championship experience.
The Barrow-born, Warrington Wolves academy graduate has spent two previous spells with the Raiders in 2012 and 2014 and will return home following his departure from Leigh Centurions, whom he joined ahead of the ill-fated 2020 season.
Shaw made just two appearances before the season was curtailed, but as a part-timer the club also helped him gain an apprenticeship with a mechanical and electrics company in Manchester.
“I have known Ryan for many years as I played with his dad Neil,” said Raiders coach Paul Crarey.
“I got a phone call off Ryan asking if it would be possible to come to Barrow. He doesn’t want to go full time as he did not want to sacrifice his apprenticeship.
“He had other options but his first choice was Barrow if a move was possible.
“I spoke to the club about him and they gave the green light to bring him in.
“He can play anywhere in our backline and has an outstanding goal kicking record. He is a great acquisition to our squad.”
Shaw now joins fellow ex-Super League players Shaun Lunt, Adam Walne and Ben Harrison at the Raiders.
“I would’ve loved to play in the Super League again, but Leigh understood I was thinking about my future,” the former Barrow Island junior told the North West Evening Mail.
“I always wanted to finish my career in Barrow, and I can see this as the last chapter and help them get to where they want to be.
“This is a club close to my heart with many members of my family having played for them or been part of the club. My dad (Neil) captained them during his playing days.
“It just seems right for me to come to this club.”
KEIGHLEY COUGARS coach Rhys Lovegrove has said any more new recruits ahead of the season will be made with the longer term future in mind.
The West Yorkshire club have already landed stars such as Scott Murrell, Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e and Wellington Albert for the coming season, but any more new faces are set to be at the opposite end of the experience scale.
“We are pretty much there with the squad, but I’d never say we’re completely done,” said Lovegrove.
“If I had to play tomorrow with the squad I have now I’d be very very happy. We have assembled a very strong squad but I am always looking for ways to get better and improve.
“If anything the players we’re looking at now would be more fringe players and guys that I believe could have a strong future in the game.
“It might be that we can’t play friendlies, and I don’t want the first time we play a game to be that first competitive game. So we’re aiming to go with a bigger squad than usual that will allow us the opportunity to play 13 v 13 in training.
“We had a couple of opposed training sessions with other clubs last year, but we simply can’t do that this year, so having a larger squad and replicating games between us is probably the best and safest way to go.
“As we saw when Super League returned, it is not uncommon for clubs to lose a few players at short notice, so those younger guys could very well find themselves getting game time this year as well so important everyone is on the same page and they’re ready to go as well.
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS coach Anthony Murray is expecting a very strong campaign once League 1 finally gets back underway later this year.
It has been announced that the Crusaders and the other nine League 1 will return to action in the Challenge Cup in the first weekend of March, before the league campaign gets back under way two weeks later.
That return date means it will be close to a year since players at this level last played a game – something Murray believes will have a positive impact on the season.
“After being without for so long everyone will be hungry to go again and I expect an increase in intensity because of that,” he said.
“Every single player is chomping at the bit to get back out there and do what they love and enjoy again after so long without it.
“League 1 is going to be the most competitive it has ever been this year. With 10 teams in the competition now, it means there is going to be a very competitive game week in-week out, with a lot of the teams involved playing to get out of the it and eyeing promotion to the Championship.
“Looking around at who teams have signed, you can see their intentions for 2021. There are some real marquee players involved and once we can get started there will be some real quality games to be seen.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Aaron Wood is already seeing the impact star signings Gavin Henson and Rangi Chase is having on the rest of the squad.
As well as those two big names, the club have also recruited and retained a number of Welsh youngsters that they hope can develop into top players.
“For the younger players in the squad, working with Gavin and Rangi is going to be huge.
“They way they are already asking questions and absorbing what Gavin and Rangi are saying is exactly what we want from them. We want people to be hungry to learn.
“Even some of the more experienced boys are listening and learning from them which is great to see and as a coach that is what you want, because as soon as players stop learning they are much harder to coach.
“A lot of people are excited to see what Gavin and Rangi can do on the field, but off it – the way they train, the way they prepare mentally, how they read the game, and the vision they have is unbelievable. That is just as valuable as what they will offer on the pitch.”
ROCHDALE HORNETS chairman Andy Mazey is confident that it will not take long for many the new players to fully integrate themselves into the club and the squad – thanks to their recruitment strategy for this year.
“We have retained a high percentage of players from the existing squad so it is just about integrating the new lads into that,” said Mazey.
“But we were quite strategic with who we brought in and brought a lot of players back to the club who have been here previously.
“Guys like Joe Tiara, Gavin Bennion, Danny Yates have come back to a club where they have previously been successful so there are not completely new to the club. It means they shouldn’t need too much introduction and should slot straight back in.
“One of the players we retained, Ben Moores, has previously said that he feels the buzz is back at the club and feels the vibe around the place is like it was when the club tasted success a few years ago. The guys coming back to the club can see that too, which is great.
“All the players are picking up on all the things we’re trying to do off the field and it feels like it’s a good place to be again.”
DONCASTER chief executive Carl Hall has said they will learn a lot from the application they made to join the Championship.
Even though they were unsuccessful, with Newcastle Thunder being awarded promotion to replace Leigh Centurions in the second-tier.
“The whole process was really good,” said Hall.
“It was a worthwhile exercise to see exactly where the club is and I’m pretty confident that the process will hold us in really good stead going forward.
“We’re in a really good position as a club and I have had some really good feedback regarding the application. I will take that away and work on with a few other things, so that when we’re ready to go, we should be in a good position to accelerate the club to where we want to be.”
LONDON SKOLARS chief executive Colin Browne has confirmed that the club’s annual Capital Challenge pre-season fixture against Wigan Warriors will not take place this month.
The popular fixture, which is usually held at the Honourable Artillery Company, has become the latest victim of the Coronavirus pandemic, but he hasn’t ruled out the match, and other events, taking place later in the year as the club celebrate a big milestone this year.
“Unfortunately, due to the continued state of the pandemic, our ever popular match against Wigan Warriors, the Capital Challenge, has had to be postponed,” said Browne in a club statement.
“It remains to be seen if we can hold a similar event later in the year or whether we just reschedule for 2022.
“However, we do hope to be able to organise some events later in the year to celebrate our 25th anniversary and to be able to re-engage with our loyal fans.”
Meanwhile the club continue to add names for the new league campaign with both Mike Greenhalgh and Lameck Juma re-signing ahead of 2021, while former London Broncos players Alfie Edwards and Tom Firth are two new faces arriving at the Skolars.
COVENTRY BEARS coach Richard Squires has said former Scotland International Dave Scott is already showing his worth as a valuable addition to the club.
The 27 year-old has taken on a player/coach role in Squires’ squad after joining from Batley Bulldogs
“Dave coming in has been great and he will have a big impact on the field.
“It means I won’t have to worry if we do concede a try or something happens on the pitch, because he’ll be out there and has the experience to handle those sorts of situations. He will be able to offer an instant response and instant advice to the players to what is happening.
“He’s so calm and collected and when players find themselves in a different situation on field, you need someone like that who can take a bit of time to think about it and just know what to do.
“Add to that his playing experience, which is vast, and he’s not a bad person to have next to you.
“He’s played in a full time environment, been part of World Cup squads and played with some of the best players in Super League.
“Even some of the more experienced guys here have already said looking forward to playing alongside him and learning from him.”
HUNSLET chairman Ken Sykes has stated his intent to remain in the role into 2021.
As a fan-owned club, all members get to have their say on which individuals take positions on the board and this year will be no exception.
But Sykes is keen to remain in the top job and see through the club’s aims of promotion to the Championship, which were derailed when the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed the 2020 season.
“Our plan is to run the board elections in the first quarter of 2021,” said Sykes in an online message to supporters.
“Despite the difficult challenges 2020 has thrown at us all I am looking forward to the new year and will be seeking election as chairman.
“There is unfinished business to sort out and I am fully committed to the challenge head and I know the other board members an the players are of the same mind.”
WORKINGTON TOWN chairman Les Smallwood has publicly thanked all those who helped make the club’s Christmas Appeal a real success.
The appeal asked for supporters and members of the local community to donate what they could, to make sure no one went short over the festive period.
From the donations numerous food parcels and toys were delivered to those in need.
“2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and many people in our local community were struggling,” said Smallwood in a social media video.
“We, as a club, couldn’t stand back and do nothing.
“We have been blown away by the response, so thank you to everyone who has donated money, toys and food to our appeal.
“Thank you to the players, coaching staff and members of the board that have helped to deliver the project and to all the volunteers that help in food banks and local charities. We as a club will be by your sides until our local community gets back on its feet.”
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