Hunslet have been forced into the loan market just a couple of weeks into the new campaign as Gary Thornton’s squad have been struck by a number of short-term injuries.
The South Leeds club went into the opener against Workington already without Jimmy Watson, Niall Walker, Duane Straugheir, Lewis Wray and Will Cooke, before then losing Jake Sweeting to a quad strain that will rule him out for four weeks.
Of those injuries, Watson’s is the most severe at this stage with a lump forming behind the knee, causing bleeding in the joint.
To make up for some of these absences, Thornton has drafted in Batley Bulldogs trio Anthony Bowman, Wayne Reittie and George Senior on initial two-week loan deals.
Reittie and Senior went straight into the squad to face North Wales on Saturday, while Bowman will be available to play against Barrow this weekend.
“Jimmy’s injury is a weird one with the doctor saying he’d not seen an injury like it before on a rugby field,” said Thornton.
“But he has had an operation so it’s just recovery now.
“The doctor removed the lump at the back of his knee so it’s just a case of letting it all heal now. We’re looking at five to six weeks before he’s back.
“Will has a torn meniscus, so that’s looking like an operation too and now we just need to see when we can get him in to sort it out.
“Because of his injury Jake has gone back to Featherstone, so we’re a bit short on numbers.
“That meant we needed to bring some cover in and massive thanks to Batley for allowing Anthony, Wayne and George to come.
“We’re really grateful to the club for helping us get through this period.
“Wayne has been a top end Championship winger for a number of years now so that experience was a big draw for us. I’ve tried to sign him a couple of times so I know all too well what he can bring to the team.
“George is well thought of at Batley but just needs some game time. He’ll come to us to prove his worth, but he’ll also do a great job for us.
“Batley are going well at the minute and winning games so these guys just couldn’t get a shirt and break back into the side, so it was a no brainer from me to get them in.”
BARROW RAIDERS have added some international experience to their ranks with the signing of former Hull FC and Toronto Wolfpack utility back Hakim Miloudi.
The 27 year-old French star, who can play at full-back, winger, centre or stand-off, has most recently played for Palau in his home country’s Elite One competition, but also knows what League 1 is all about having spent time on loan with Doncaster.
While at the South Yorkshire club in 2018, he equalled their record for most points scored in a game, after scoring 32 points through four tries and eight goals in a win over Coventry Bears.
Barrow have also signed former Whitehaven hooker Sam Dowsett, who left their Cumbrian neighbours last month when a new business venture made committing to their training schedule difficult.
Dowsett won the League 1 title with Whitehaven in 2019 and will be hoping to repeat that feat again this year.
“Hakim’s signing is a massive statement of intent from the Raiders, who have picked up a player who could undoubtedly be playing in Super League,” said chairman Steve Neale.
“He has set himself the mission of making the France World Cup squad and his mission will be our benefit.
“Unknowingly, the Barrow crowd have played a big part in the signing, with Hakim remarking how well they got behind the team when he visited in a Toronto shirt.
“Sam was recently released to return to the amateur ranks before we became aware of his availability. We managed to convince him that with the reduced travelling for training he could continue a professional career and we are delighted that he agreed.
“Sam will strengthen competition for places as the club look to make a strong promotion challenge.”
KEIGHLEY COUGARS coach Rhys Lovegrove admits he would like to see live streaming of games continue even once fans are permitted back into stadiums.
The service, offered mainly through the RFL’s OurLeague app, has allowed supporters to watch their club in action while Coronavirus restrictions prevented crowds in stadiums. But with those rules being relaxed from today (Monday), Lovegrove believes this service could now offer a broadcast deal to the clubs below Super League.
“100 percent I would like to see games continue to be streamed at this level, it’s a no brainer for me,” said Lovegrove.
“Even though I am now a coach and have been involved with Rugby League for a long time I didn’t ever catch that many games. But I have watched more games over the last couple of months than I have in the 10 years I’ve been over here.
“That has tended to be the Championship and League 1 games and it’s great to have access to them.
“Like a lot of people I just love watching footy and these streams exemplify that.
“The OurLeague coverage, and other clubs live streaming their own events is great to see, and it gives people extra opportunities to watch games.
“Although people are very tribal in terms of who they support, a lot of them do still just love Rugby League at heart and will go out of their way to support the game.
“You’ll get that cross over of people who want to support their own team but still sit down, support the game as a whole and just watch a game of footy.
“The streaming system has been brilliant for that and could really open the Championship and League 1 up to a whole new audience.”
COVENTRY BEARS coach Richard Squires has said now that his team is finally back in action, they will definitely make the most of it.
After missing out for most of 2020, the Bears returned to the field against Barrow Raiders before facing West Wales on Saturday.
“It’s been a long time coming and pre-season is a long old slog for the boys,” said Squires.
“We don’t have a free weekend now until mid-July, but after not having the game for so long there are no complaints about that from us.
“I could tell our boys that they didn’t have a break all season and I think they’d be happy, because that means they are back playing rugby.
“The last month of pre-season went really quickly in preparation for that Barrow game, so I think the season will fly by as well. Before we know we’ll be preparing for the next one and looking at how things have gone.
“We definitely can’t take this year for granted because now it’s here, it’s going to fly by so we will enjoy it while we can.”
Elsewhere, the Bears have brought in young winger AJ Towse on a season-long loan from York City Knights as cover for injuries to Niall Sidney and Hayden Freeman.
“I have been in conversations with Jon Flatman at York for a number of months around some player developments,” said director of rugby Alan Robinson.
“Unfortunately Niall and Hayden are both out of action so the time was right to give AJ this opportunity and bring him in.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS have signed Welsh Junior international Rhys Davies on loan from Dewsbury Rams.
“Rhys is a welsh boy and we want Welsh boys back at the club,” said coach Aaron Wood.
“He’s a big, strong outside second row, but can play in the middle too, which is great because we needed to bolster our pack a little.
“There are a lot of big boys around this league and I’m a very pack heavy coach so like having lots of options available there.
“When Rhys became available, he wanted to come here, and we want people at the club who want to play for us. So I gave him a chance and he’s trained the house down.
“He’s been training with Dewsbury so he has Championship-level experience and now he just wants some game time.”
Davies, who has signed an initial one month deal, went straight into Wood’s squad to face Coventry Bears on Saturday.
WORKINGTON TOWN added a new face to their ranks ahead of Sunday’s visit of London Skolars after signing Newcastle Thunder star Joe Brown on a one-month loan deal.
“We are delighted to welcome Joe to the club,” said coach Chris Thorman.
“He will bring some much needed experience to the group, being Newcastle’s most capped player.
“He’s an outside back that is equally at home on the wing as he is in the centres.
“Competition for places in the squad is hotting up and Browny will only add to that, especially with a tough few games coming up.”
LONDON SKOLARS have acted fast to fill some of the gaps left by a costly opening day defeat to North Wales Crusaders.
Jermaine Coleman’s side were already without Iliess Macani and Dalton Grant and they lost Lameck Juma, Lamont Bryan, Mike Greenhalgh and Tom Firth to injury in the game, while Judd Greenhalgh and Jerome Yates were also unavailable for Sunday’s visit to Workington Town.
But they have since added to their ranks with the signing of Louis Sheriff on a short-term loan deal from Featherstone Rovers as well as handing a permanent contract to Scotland Students international Joshua Dalton, who has recently enjoyed a successful trial with the club.
“Louis is a great player and I’ve tried to get him down to the club before, but it’s just never really worked out with his work commitments and family,” said Coleman.
“I’ve know him for a while and he’s played against us plenty of times so I know what I am going to get from him and he knows what to expect from me.
“From his point of view, he’d like to get back in the Featherstone team, but we’d like to have him in our team for as long as possible.
“Nathan Graham, who is part of the Scotland coaching set up, asked if Josh could come down to us on trial as part of the development work they’re doing with him.
“To be fair to Josh he’s worked really hard and is a good bloke to have around the group. I wanted to reward him for the effort he’s put in.
“His next challenge is to try and get himself selected in the 19-man squad every week and put himself in the frame for selection.”
ROCHDALE HORNETS‘ returning centre Lewis Galbraith is in line to make his second debut for the club against Keighley this weekend.
The 26-year-old, who made his first appearance for the club in 2014, re-signed from Batley Bulldogs in March after scoring 16 tries in over 40 appearances in his previous spell with the club.
However, he was forced to miss out on the opening two games against West Wales Raiders and Doncaster after receiving a two match ban following a late hit in the pre-season game against North Wales Crusaders.
“Lewis has served his suspension and will be back in contention this week,” said chairman Andy Mazey.
“He was a big signing for us this year, so it will be great to finally see him back out there.
“He’s a strong player and has a lot of Championship experience. Apart from Fui (Fuifui Moimoi) and Penky (Sean Penkywicz) we are a relatively young team, so Lewis’ experience coming back into the side will no doubt be a massive benefit this week.”
DONCASTER scrum half Matty Beharrell believes the later start than normal to the season can work in his club’s favour as the season progresses.
By not kicking off until May, League 1 has largely missed the poor weather conditions on heavy, boggy pitches that usually characterise the early part of the year. For Beharrell, that means the Dons will be able to go with their preferred style of play from the very start.
“The later start will be a benefit to us,” said Beharrell.
“It will suit us better as we like to throw the ball around when we’re out there – we’re all happier playing when we can do that and the sun is shining.
“We’re really relishing having some nice weather and some fans back in behind us. We’re all looking forward to fans getting back in, I’m sure they have missed their rugby as much as we have.”
Elsewhere, the club have confirmed the season-long loan signing of Wakefield Trinity centre Ollie Greensmith, as first reported in League Express two weeks ago.
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS chief executive Andy Moulsdale has been left delighted by the fans’ reaction to the club’s move away from Wrexham.
The club recently announced they will pay their 2021 home games Stadiwm ZipWorld in Colwyn Bay after Covid regulations meant they would not be able to continue at Queensway.
And for Moulsdale, the move also gives the club a great opportunity to attract more supporters from a much wider field.
“The reaction from fans to the move has been great,” said Moulsdale, who watched his side in action at the new ground for the first time on Saturday.
“I thought we’d get more supporters not understanding why we’ve had to do it, but hand on heart 99 percent of fans have understood and have backed what we are doing.
“We’ve had really good initial feedback and exposure over the move, but we need to capitalise on that now and engage with the rest of North Wales. We’re now in the process of working with Conwy, Colwyn Bay and Rhyl to do that.
“We are in quite a unique situation with our name and area. We cover quite a big area, and are not locked to one area or town, so need to make the most of that.
“This is an opportunity for us to branch out to a larger audience, so if our loyal fan base stick with us and we can expand into other areas, it can only be good for the club.”
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