Workington Town forward Hanley Dawson is loving life at Workington Town so much he didn’t have to think twice when the club offered him a new deal at Derwent Park.
The 24-year-old joined the club from Millom in December 2019 after a successful trial and went on to make an instant impression.
Despite only playing five games before the season was cut short due to the pandemic, Dawson was showing signs of becoming one of the stand out performers across the whole league and was named as Rugby League World magazine’s only League 1 Player of the Month in 2020.
“It was, 100 percent, an easy decision to make to sign the new deal,” said Dawson, who will now remain with the club until at least the end of the 2022 season.
“We were on track to have a good season last year and on a personal level I was going well and was looking to have a great year.
“It’s a great club to be at and everything here is looking really good for this year.
“I can not fault the club – from the volunteers who are helping with the covid tests, to the directors, Chris and his staff and all the players – I can’t say a bad word against any of them.
“It’s a great environment to be in and all the lads are hard working for each other and we all share the same goals.
“We’re all pushing for promotion this year and if we can be successful in that this year, then the next aim is to hold our own in the Championship.
“Personally I just want to continue the form I started last year in and take my game as far as I can.
“But I know I still have a long way to go if I want to be a success at this level.”
Chase the perfect captain, says Wood
WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Aaron Wood has admitted he did consider other options before naming Rangi Chase as captain, but knows he eventually selected the right man for the job.
Former Man of Steel and Albert Goldthorpe Medal winner Chase made his West Wales debut against Widnes Vikings in the Challenge Cup and arrived at Stebonheath with vast amounts of experience.
The 34 year old played in the NRL with Wests Tigers and St George Illawarra Dragons before moving to Super League with Castleford Tigers.
His career in the UK also saw him turn out for Salford, Leigh, Widnes and Doncaster.
“Rangi was not the obvious choice straight away as there are other guys in the squad with different strengths and different ways of being a captain,” said Wood.
“Joe Burke and Morgan Evans were up there too and they have ben named vice-captains, but when we really sat down and looked at what the team needed in a leader – someone who talks on the field and has that big game experience – it had to be Rangi.
“He’s a half back thats what half backs do. They lead and they take control of the team.
“Rangi was very humbled by it, it’s not something he’s done before so he was very grateful. When I told him about it he was very emotional and said he won’t let the club down. He wants to prove himself to everyone.
“He has been leading from the front from day one and that’s what we got him in for.
“Rangi ticks all the boxes and the boys really respond to that. He’s a really approachable guy and the boys all love him.
“He’s got the full package.”
Galbraith returns to Hornets
ROCHDALE HORNETS have added more Championship experience to their ranks for the coming season by snapping up Lewis Galbraith from Batley Bulldogs for an undisclosed fee.
The 26-year-old centre is not a new face to the club having scored 16 tries in 40 appearances since making his debut in 2014.
He has since spent two years playing for Sarina Crocodiles in Australia before returning to the UK and joining the Bulldogs.
“I’m really happy to be back at Rochdale,” said Galbraith.
“I think the best rugby I’ve ever played personally and as a team has been at Rochdale, especially with gaining promotion a few years ago. It’s a really happy feeling coming back to the club and I hope Rochdale can do something great this year too.
“Matt Calland is a great coach and a great bloke, so I’m looking forward to playing under him this year. I’m also looking forward to getting back together with some of the lads I’ve played with here before.”
Calland added: “I am delighted to bring Lewis back to the club. He has been on my radar for a while now and he will give us some genuine strike on the edges.”
Meanwhile the club have also announced amateur deals with Matt Whitehead, Ben Forster and Dan Nixon.
Whitehead initially joined the club in 2020 following a successful trial period, and went on to feature for the first team in the Challenge Cup fifth round defeat to York City Knights. The former Lancashire BARLA representative is able to cover most back positions and loose forward.
Nixon who was also at the club last year on dual-registration, links back up with Hornets alongside his studies and playing at partners Hopwood Hall College, who are also responsible for producing Forster.
Lovegrove planning for Bears
KEIGHLEY COUGARS coach Rhys Lovegrove has said there is still time for players to stake a claim in his plans for the opening match of the season against Doncaster.
Having already played Bradford Bulls in a pre-season outing and London Broncos in the Challenge Cup, the Cougars will have one final hit-out before the league kicks off when Coventry Bears make the trip north for a friendly on Saturday, April 24.
“I haven’t really decided yet what I will do team wise yet, but I think my mind will be made up by the players and how they train over the next month,” admitted Lovegrove.
“At the moment I’m probably looking at running with more of a limited squad for that game and I can’t foresee everyone getting minutes like they did against Bradford. But there might be an opportunity to further progress the players development in regards to people I think will be in and around the mix for those first couple of games.
“It will be a tough test for us, but a different one to what we have already had in Bradford and London.
“It’s a good opportunity to play another game against a good quality opposition from our league, and that’s the key.
“We’ve played two teams from the division above and put in two good performances, even if we haven’t got the results. So it will be good to play someone from our division and have the opportunity to get some more minutes under our belt, have a look at a few more players and get us ready for Doncaster two weeks later.”
Games in sight for Hunslet
HUNSLET coach Gary Thornton has said excitement is building among the squad now that their first game in over a year is finally in sight.
Ahead of the new season kicking off in May, Hunslet have arranged two pre-season games next month, with North Wales visiting West Yorkshire on Sunday, April 18 and Barrow Raiders making the same trip a week later (April 25th).
While the opposition offers different preparation to what the club are used to in pre-season both games will be vital in preparing the club to face Workington Town when the league season gets underway.
“Last year we played two Championship clubs in Batley and Bradford as well as the annual game against Leeds,” said Thornton.
“We wouldn’t normally play teams in our own division in pre-season but with the Championship clubs back playing by then and Super League clubs not running reserves this year, we’ve been limited in what we can do.
“It’s not ideal and we play both teams again fairly early on in the season as well, but it is what is it.
“We need to get some games in to make sure we’re ready for round one so we have to be grateful for what we’ve got.
“The important thing is that my team get back out onto the field and get some competitive game time together against an opposition who look to bash us about a bit. We need to get that rustiness out of us and get used to some contact again.
“North Wales are never easy and Barrow are tipped to go all the way, so they are going to be tough for us.
“By the time the games come around it will be 13 months since we’ve played, so we’ll make sure the players all get enough game time but we’ll not over use them. We’ve got to make sure we don’t overstretch them and that they’re ready for the league to start in May.”
LEAGUE 1 ROUND UP
BARROW RAIDERS coach Paul Crarey believes the number of former Super League and Championship players that will be turning out in League 1 this year could have a long lasting effect in the game.
The Raiders coach himself has brought a number of seasoned professionals to the club for 2021 and he is excited to see what they, and others across the competition, can produce this year.
“When Toronto started in League 1 it was a very competitive league and since then one or two teams have seen players coming down and playing a couple of years in League 1,” said Crarey.
“But this year, it’s happened across the board if you look at the signing some clubs have made.
“It means there are a lot of experienced players knocking around in League 1. But what you also have in this competition is a lot of young hungry kids and they’re the ones that will benefit from playing with these fellas.
“You only have to look at our guys and the response they have when Ben Harrison, Adam Walne and Ryan Shaw walk into the changing room. Those sorts of guys give everyone a lift and the younger ones feed off that experience.
“As long as these players are coming into this competition with a desire to work and don’t influence the young players in the wrong way, then it’s a massive plus for the league.
“League 1 will be a great division to be around this year. There will be no easy games and it will be really tough. We can’t afford to be complacent.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS coach Anthony Murray believes that the growth of the amateur game in the local area can only be a good thing for the club and the game as a whole.
It was recently announced that the club’s reserves side has been rebranded as Wrexham Crusaders, who will offer opportunities in the game to all age ranges as well as women.
On top of that Conwy Celts will rejoin the community game in North Wales after a four-year absence.
“The more clubs playing in the North Wales area the better,” said Murray.
I am really pleased that more rugby is going to be played in North Wales, because ultimately we want long term survival in the area. It is really important that more clubs are formed and more people are playing, and being introduced to, Rugby League.
“We have got five or six players in our squad now that qualify and or have already played, which is pleasing. But that is something I would like to see continue to grow at this club.
“And with new teams setting up, it gives us more chances to give people that opportunity in the game.
“You never know, we might just find a few diamonds out there.”
COVENTRY BEARS coach Richard Squires has said the pre-season fixture against Keighley Cougars on Saturday, April 24, is likely to be their only opposed hit out ahead of the new season kicking off in May.
Having not played since March 2020, the trip to West Yorkshire will be a much needed fixture for the Bears who start off their league campaign against Barrow Raiders on May 8.
“We had hoped to play a Bradford Bulls side on Easter Monday as well, but the RFL have had to say no to that one,” explained Squires.
“Bradford have already played two pre-season friendlies and the RFL have put a limit on the number we can play this year. So we’ve gone back to the drawing board on that and we’ll probably just go against each other internally as I know a few of the other clubs are doing.
“It won’t make a huge difference, but does hinder what we had planned.”
LONDON SKOLARS chief executive Colin Browne has said the club is going into this season in a healthy position, despite losing two major sources of income over the last 12-months.
Just over a year ago former board members and major investors Hector McNeil and Terry Browne both left the club, while the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic prevented this year’s Capital Challenge at the Honourable Artillery Company – a big money maker for the club – from going ahead.
“When the new board was set up with myself as CEO and Adrian Fraine, an existing director, as chairman our main aim was to keep the club afloat,” said Colin Browne.
“With the loss of our two main investors that was always going to be a challenge, but it’s one we’re really gearing up for.
“We’re starting to attract some new investors, not major investors, but smaller ones with the idea of having more smaller investors so we’re not so reliant on just a couple of big benefactors.
“Financially the club is strong, but as for all clubs, it’s still going to be a very challenging year.
“Luckily it seems like only our first home game will be behind closed doors. If the Government roadmap stays as it is, the rest of our home games will be in front of some spectators.
“There will still be some issues with secondary incomes from matches, which is going to cause some issues, but we are confident that with the funds we have built up over the last year, that this year is not going to be an issue for us.
“We are planning ahead for future seasons to make sure club stays financially viable and in position where can compete at best possible level we can.”
DONCASTER‘s Rugby League World Cup legacy officer Martin Rowlands is putting on his running shoes to raise money for a local cancer charity.
Rowlands has set himself the challenge of running 10k a day for 10 consecutive days to raise vital funds for cancer support charity Firefly, who aim to breakdown the stigma and embarrassment of personal cancer problems in young men and women and give those with the disease the confidence to communicate with friends, family and health professionals. The Doncaster-based charity also provide vital transport to medical appointments.
“The money raised will help them towards costs of running and maintaining the vehicles,” said Rowlands.
“Firefly are a fantastic charity who help so many of our local people.
“Times are hard at the moment and the charity and I do really appreciate anything you can afford to donate to help Firefly continue doing a fantastic job.”
To donate to the cause visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MartinRowlands2
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