Betfred League 1 news round up

Barrow Raiders physio Sean Riley has revealed that outside back Ryan Shaw is set for a spell on the sidelines after picking up a knee injury during pre-season.

The 28-year-old featured in the game against Workington Town but missed the last victory over Hunslet because of the problem.

“Ryan doesn’t look too good,” said Riley.

“He’s torn his posterior cruciate ligament and it’s hanging on by about 30 per cent. The medial ligament on the inside of the knee has quite a bad tear as well.

“We had a scan done last Monday and saw the consultant the next day. He doesn’t think Ryan needs operating on so we’re going to put him in a knee brace for the next six weeks and do some rehab with him.

“We’ll then see what the consultant thinks in six weeks.

“If he thinks the medial has healed then we might have a chance of getting him playing in two to three months.

“If it hasn’t healed, then he may have to go under the knife to have it repaired.”

While Shaw will be missing, Riley is confident Jordan Walne could soon be back in contention after picking up a head injury in the Challenge Cup tie at Oldham.

“Jordan’s recovery was somewhat slow, as his symptoms didn’t settle as quickly as we’d have liked,” added Riley.

“To err on the side of caution we spoke to a neurologist in Manchester and Jordan saw him the week before last.

“He is happy for Jordan to step up to a 1k run a day providing he is symptom-free. He’s also holding a video review with him on Monday to see where he’s at.

“If everything is fine, we might be able to start a gradual return to play, if not he might want to look into something further like a CT scan.

“But at the moment, Jordan is responding well and if he carries on like this, I am quite optimistic that we can start his gradual return to play over the next week or so.

NORTH WALES CRUSADERS are on the move in 2021 after confirming they are to leave Queensway Stadium after four years.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 regulations, the club is no longer able to play at the Wrexham ground they moved into in 2017, and will instead play their 2021 home fixtures at Stadiwm ZipWorld in Colwyn Bay.

The new venue has a capacity of 5,500, plus a state-of-the-art gym, corporate boxes and a hospitality area.
“We’ve had to adapt on and off the field because of the pandemic, but this move to Stadiwm ZipWorld creates so many opportunities for the club,” said chief executive Andy Moulsdale.

“Stadiwm ZipWorld is a fantastic facility in a great location, with the beach only a couple of hundred metres away and Conwy Castle a couple of miles down the road.

“While we’ll be doing everything we can to look after our current fan base in Wrexham by working with them to arrange transport to matches once guidelines allow, this is a chance for us to gain more followers across the whole of the region.

“At Queensway, we’ve been limited to a couple of income streams because of the facilities on site, but our new home will allow us to welcome fans, sponsors and partners to matches in the hospitality area and improve the overall matchday experience we offer.”

Meanwhile, on the field, the club have signed hooker George Roby on a season-long loan from Super League club Huddersfield Giants.

“This is a positive deal for us and George will provide further competition at nine,” said coach Anthony Murray.

“He is a highly-rated, young player and we’re excited to see what he can do in a Crusaders shirt in 2021.

“League 1 will no doubt provide George with a good taste of senior Rugby League and an opportunity to develop his game.”

ROCHDALE HORNETS coach Matt Calland has said the club won’t be making the same mistake twice as they prepare to welcome West Wales Raiders to the Crown Oil Arena on Sunday for the opening league game of the season.

Although the Hornets ran out 22-12 winners against North Wales Crusaders in a pre-season game recently, Calland admits attitudes were perhaps wrong in the lead up to that game and that they can not afford to let that happen again this weekend.

“We were a bit scratchy against North Wales and I do expect it to take a bit of time for the lads to fully get back into it,” said Calland.

“That game showed what a competitive season it is going to be and I think we may be underestimated North Wales, who were really unlucky to lose the match. They were more up for it than we were, which was a shame to see, but it has given us a lot of areas to work on ahead of Sunday.

“I really do think anybody can beat anyone this year on their day. I know Keighley and Barrow are looking really strong but going to be a tight league. So it is vital we get off to a good start.

“West Wales have recruited some high profile players and on his day there’s not many better than Rangi Chase, and Gavin Henson will only get better with every game he plays.

“We certainly won’t be underestimating West Wales Raiders as we did with the Crusaders.”

LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman is hoping his side can play a role in attracting a new audience to League 1 this weekend.

Skolars get the season back underway on Saturday with the visit of North Wales Crusaders, before the other eight teams in the competition return to action 24 hours later.

“It is nice to think that we’re starting the season off and getting the first game underway,” said Coleman.

“It should be a great fixture and with the game being streamed hopefully we can both put on a good spectacle and show people that League 1 is going to be a good league this year.

“I expect North Wales to come out and hit the ground running. They will be well-drilled, well-skilled and fast and play the exciting rugby that Anthony (Murray – coach) likes to play.

“It’ll be a nice challenge for us and it’ll also be nice to catch up with Anthony again. We have a good relationship and haven’t seen each other in over a year, so it’ll be good to see him in person again.

“No doubt be at each other’s throats throughout the game, but then afterwards we’ll have a nice catch-up and chance to say hello.

“Rugby League fans just want to watch the game and the streaming services are opening up different levels of the game to a different audience. So once people see what League 1 is like hopefully, once fans are allowed back in, if their own team doesn’t have a game they might happily pop down to their local League 1 club and watch a game there.

“That would be massively beneficial for, not just League 1 clubs, but the game in general.”

DONCASTER are thought to be in discussions with Super League side Wakefield Trinity over a loan deal for Academy graduate Ollie Greensmith.

The centre signed a first-team contract with Trinity in 2019 and was this year given squad number 32, but he has yet to make his professional debut with the club.

Trinity coach Chris Chester is keen to get a deal done to allow Greensmith, who has represented Yorkshire at Under 17 and Under 19s level as well as the England Community Lions, to gain some valuable professional game experience.

Meanwhile, the club has appointed Chris Plume as Richard Horne’s new assistant coach.

The club was looking to add to the backroom staff as work commitments meant club favourite Pete Green would not be able to help out with training as much as before, he will however remain a part of the club.

Plume’s most recent roles in the game have been at Leeds Rhinos and Toronto Wolfpack.

Having coached his way up through the age categories at Headingley, Plume then became Brian McDermott’s assistant with the first team, before joining the former Bradford Bulls forward at the Wolfpack.

“Chris is a really smart recruit for the club,” said chief executive Carl Hall.

“Everyone I spoke to gave him a glowing reference.

“Not only will he add value to the coaching staff, he will also be a great asset when it comes to the Academy, scholarships and pathways, which he also contributed to at Leeds Rhinos.”

KEIGHLEY COUGARS coach Rhys Lovegrove is looking forward to renewing some old acquaintances on Sunday when Doncaster travel to Cougar Park.

The Australian was on the coaching staff at the South Yorkshire club before his move to Keighley and admits the meeting of the two sides adds to the excitement for the season finally getting back underway after a 14-month break.

“I’m just looking forward to the game being back and the fans having some league action to watch, even if it is only on a live stream still,” said Lovegrove.

“The fact it’s against Doncaster adds to that even more.

“I have a little bit of history with Doncaster, having been strength and conditioning coach there and working with Carl Hall (chief executive) and Richard Horne (coach).

“They are a great club and playing them is a really exciting way to kick off the season for us.

“It is a real test to see where we are in terms of the competition.

“The amount of competition across the league this year is unbelievable and I am excited to see how everyone goes.

“We then have Barrow away so really excited to see how we go out there and what the boys can do.”

HUNSLET coach Gary Thornton knows his side need to hit the ground running at the weekend if they are to keep up with their fellow promotion chasers at the top of the league.

The South Leeds side kick off their season with a visit from Workington on Sunday, before games against North Wales Crusaders (away), Barrow Raiders (home), Keighley Cougars (away) and Rochdale Hornets (home).

“We have a very tough start and in a tough division we can’t afford to start slowly,” said Thornton.

“We have to be right on it from day one so we have to be ready for Sunday.

“We’ve learned quite a bit about Workington over the last couple of years and Chris Thorman certainly made a difference to then when he came in. He has done well in his recruitment and we know they are going to be a massive challenge for us.

“I watched their pre-season game against Barrow which gave me an insight to both teams, so that was useful going into the weekend.

“Workington were a bit of a bogey team for us in 2019, so hopefully we can put that right on Sunday.”

WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Aaron Wood admits he has gone back to basics in recent weeks as he prepares his side to travel to Rochdale Hornets on Sunday.

The Raiders competitive season got underway in March with a 58-4 defeat to Widnes Vikings in the Challenge Cup. Their only other hit out this year came in the recent 38-32 pre-season loss to London Skolars.

While still a loss, that result did show an improvement that no doubt pleased Wood.

“I thought we were a bit off the pace against Widnes in terms of fitness, so we have been working hard on that since as well as building on the key areas and making sure we get the fundamentals of Rugby League right,” said Wood.

“Widnes was a good stepping stone to see where we were and we could see we were lacking in some of those basic areas.

“We have a lot of first time Rugby League players in the squad this year with some guys converting from union, so they’ve now had a few more weeks to get their Rugby League brain ticking over.

“It’s been good to go back to basics and look at getting that side of things right. We’re always positive about things so we’ve been working hard and grinding away to be ready for round one.

“There are not many harder games we could start with. It’s a long journey up to Rochdale and it’s going to be a challenge.

“Getting a trip like this straight away is a big test for us, but I’m confident the boys will be ready for it.”

COVENTRY BEARS coach Richard Squires has said his younger players may have to get over mental barriers as well as physical ones when their season gets underway against Barrow Raiders on Sunday.

The Cumbrian side will travel to Butts Park Arena with many more experienced players in their ranks than the Bears have, but Squires says his side should not be overawed by that.

“Barrow are a big, physical outfit with a lot of experience so it will be a tough task,” said Squires.

“They will be massive favourites, but my boys can use that as motivation. It is one of those games where we’ve got nothing to lose so we can throw everything at them and mix things up a bit.

“For us it’s about getting the little things right, because if you don’t do that against Barrow they’ll punish you.

“Another big thing for us is that a lot of our boys went into the pre-season game against Keighley feeling quite intimidated. They looked at the team sheet and saw guys like Scott Murrell, QLT and Jake Webster playing and some of the younger lads in our squad grew up watching them, so that was a big thing for them to now be playing against them.

“It could be the same against Barrow – some of their more experienced players might have been playing the game for longer than some of our younger ones have been alive.

“There are some big names at Barrow so my boys just need to get those reputations out of their heads, and that’s a different battle for them to face.”

WORKINGTON TOWN coach Chris Thorman has reverted to tradition by naming Jamie Doran as the club’s captain for 2021, supported by vice-captains Dec O’Donnell and Stevie Scholey.

Doran and Scholey recently signed new long-term deals with the club, while O’Donnell returned to the club over the winter having initially left to join Ottawa Aces, who were set to join League 1 this year before the Coronavirus pandemic put paid to that.

“In 2020 I decided to have a leadership group of five players, but after getting to know all of the players a lot better in 2021, I’ve decided to go with a more conventional team of captains,” said Thorman.

“All three bring different elements to the job and all three complement each other.

“Although I never guarantee a player to play every week, I’d generally expect these three to be three of the first names on the team sheet.

“Jamie and Dec both play in key positions and make a lot of the important decisions on the field, whereas Stevie is excellent at leading by example.

“The balance of the three should work particularly well and add to that some of the experienced players in the squad, we have a number of people that will lead the group well.”

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