WEST WALES RAIDERS look set to lose marquee signing Rangi Chase.
The former Man of Steel winner has featured in four games for the Welsh club this season but it is believed he has asked to be released from the remainder his contract.
Several northern teams are thought to be chasing the 35-year-old’s signature, but it is though any move would command a fee.
Meanwhile coach Aaron Wood has said he can still take hope from some of their previous performances, despite still awaiting their first win of the campaign.
Other results across the league also give Wood the belief that if they can get their performance spot on, they could spring a surprise, much like Coventry did against Rochdale last month.
“We’ll keep grafting away and, as we’ve seen already, there are teams that should have won games and didn’t and vice versa,” said Wood.
“We can take hope from Coventry beating Rochdale that we could do that to someone too.
“Even in our games against Rochdale and Doncaster, we were in the games up until 60th minute so we are making progress – but too often the scoresheet at the end of games doesn’t show that.
“Against Rochdale it was only 12-4 at at half time and at 24-18 against Doncaster we dropped the ball over the line so it could easily have been 24-24 on the 60 minutes in. We have showed glimpses in games so there are things there to build on.
“We’re rallying hard and we just want to be competitive in games, enjoy ourselves and get better every week. If we keep with that attitude we’ll be in the games a lot more as season goes on.”
KEIGHLEY COUGARS coach Rhys Lovegrove is confident that club legend James Feather will feature for the club again this year after re-registering as a player.
Feather made his debut for the club back in 2006 and has gone on to feature in 341 games for the Cougars – three more appearances for the hooker this season would break Phil Stephenson’s summer era record for the club.
The 37-year-old made three appearance in 2020 before the Coronavirus pandemic halted the season. He then went on to join Lovegrove’s backroom team.
“Buster has been part of my staff all season, but he has been back training with the guys for a few weeks now,” said Lovegrove.
“He’s such a legend at the club and he always keeps himself fit. He gets involved at training so he’s in and around there when it comes to selection, but he’s knows that personal records come second to the performances of the team. The team has to be performing and he needs to be a part of what we’re trying to do as a team.
“The way things are, we’re getting some injuries and the games are coming thick and fast, so I am sure that if he keeps training the way he has been then he’ll start asking questions when it comes to team selection. He’ll get out there based on his efforts in training alone.
“His leadership is second to none. He has so much experience, he knows what defences are going to do before they do it and he really helps those younger guys around him with his communication. He’s great guy to have around the place and is an asset to the club.”
ROCHDALE HORNETS winger Dale Bloomfield has announced his retirement from the game with immediate effect.
The 33-year-old re-joined the Hornets for a third stint with the club in 2020 and has also played for Oldham, North Wales and Hunslet over the course of his career.
Whilst with the Hornets, Bloomfield was part of the historic League 1 play-off winning side in Toulouse in 2016.
Taking to Twitter, Bloomfield confirmed: “After 27 years of playing rugby it’s finally time to call it a day. My body just isn’t up for it anymore and I don’t want to let myself, teammates or fans down not being able to perform how I would like to.
“Thank you to all the clubs that have had me, the coaches and the fans who have supported me. There’s no better sport and I’ve met some great blokes who will be friends for life.”
Elsewhere the club have signed Newcastle Thunder back rower Cole Oakley an initial two-week loan deal.
Oakley came through the Warrington Wolves academy system, before moving to Thunder ahead of this season.
“We are doing it tough at the moment and are very low on troops, so I’d like to thank Jordan, Mick and Denis over at Newcastle for enabling this deal to happen and allowing Cole to join us on loan,” said Hornets chairman Andy Mazey.
A bigger than usual crowd could be watching Oakley in action after the club linked up with community clubs across Greater Manchester for a new ticketing initiative.
Juniors at Bury Broncos, Limehurst Lions, Oldham St Annes, Rochdale Mayfield, Saddleworth Rangers and Waterhead Warriors have all been invited to attend upcoming home games against North Wales Crusaders and London Skolars for free, with complimentary tickets made available to parents, volunteers and coaches.
WORKINGTON TOWN have followed up the recent permanent capture of Rhys Clarke by handing his former Newcastle Thunder team mate Joe Brown a contract until the end of the season.
As with Clarke, Brown had also initially joined on loan, but that deal has been turned into a permanent deal and coach Chris Thorman knows how vital this duo could be in his largely young and inexperienced squad.
“At times this year the squad has shown it’s naivety,” said Thorman.
“We are an inexperienced squad and I knew that from our recruitment. I always wanted a squad with a core of Cumbrians and I have always said we won’t be the finished article in 2021 with that in mind.
“I can’t be too displeased with how we’ve started, but I sometimes don’t think this group know how good they could be if they just focused on some areas we’ve highlighted. You learn from mistakes more than anything in life.
“Joe and Rhys are both 30-years plus with a lot of Championship games behind them and are great communicators. That is probably just what this squad needs now, and maybe we need to bring in a couple more experienced guys like them.”
BARROW RAIDERS will assess their options this week before deciding if they need to add any reinforcements ahead of Sunday’s Cumbrian derby against Workington Town.
Paul Crarey was down to his last 18 fit players as they travelled to London Skolars on Saturday, leaving the coach to ponder whether to temporarily dip into the loan market.
Jarrad Stack, Declan Hulme and Mark Tyson all joined the injury list after the win over Rochdale, while Dan Toal has been hit with a five match ban for punching in the game against West Wales Raiders.
“We’re starting to run out of players and have no centres” admitted Crarey.
“We’ll hopefully get some back for Workington, but we were struggling at the weekend and had some youngsters being given a chance.
“I have spoken to the chairman so bringing some more bodies in could be something we need to look at. There are some guys that might only be a few weeks away from returning so we have just got to be careful that we don’t bring some loanees just for the sake of a couple of games.
“But the good thing about the system now is that you can bring someone in for two weeks. So there might be a chance of doing something with that.
“We’ll look at things on Monday (today) and see how we’ve rolled at London and what bodies we’ve got that might be coming back in for Sunday.
“We might need to move quickly though if those guys aren’t going to be fit enough to play against Workington.
“If we get any new injuries after the London game we probably will need to look at other options.”
COVENTRY BEARS have re-signed Brad Clavering, who played in all three of the club’s games in 2020.
The 23-year-old came through the ranks at Super League side Hull KR, from where he had spells on loan at York in 2017 and the Bears in 2018 and 2019, before signing for them permanently.
But following the disruption caused to last season Clavering chose to join Championship outfit Dewsbury Rams ahead of the current season. But a change in his circumstances has seen him return to the Midlands club.
“With his job he was struggling to commit to Dewsbury so he’s made himself available to us again,” said Squires.
“He has enjoyed his time at the club previously and he offers us some more experience.
“He has been involved in a Super League environment and he offers us a different attacking threat that could be very valuable in this team this year.”
HUNSLET coach Gary Thornton has reacted quickly to the news of Jimmy Watson’s latest injury setback by signing Lewis Young on loan from Newcastle Thunder.
Watson had only just returned from a leg injury sustained in pre-season when he ruptured an Achilles tendon in the early stages of the away win at London Skolars.
25-year-old Young has joined on an initial two-week loan deal and will offer Thornton specialist cover at fullback.
“We were devastated to lose Jimmy so soon after his return,” said Thornton.
“With Kiedan Hartley also struggling with a hamstring injury, I thought it was important to look for a replacement specialist fullback.
“We have been very fortunate to bring Lewis into the group. He is an exciting player with his agile footwork and blistering pace, and he has a real eye for a gap on the end of attacking plays.
“Whenever he has played against us for Newcastle, he has been a real threat from fullback, and has an impressive try-scoring record. He will really add to our attacking options and I’m looking forward to seeing him in action in Hunslet colours.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS have strengthened their squad with the double loan signings of Bradford Bulls’ Ethan O’Hanlon and Connor Aspey from Salford Red Devils.
Coach Anthony Murray currently has numerous players sidelined, including Jono Smith, Alex Eckley, Warren Thompson, Callum Hazzard and Earl Hurst, so the duo’s arrival has proved timely.
Both players went straight into the 21-man squad named for the trip to West Wales Raiders on Saturday.
“We’re doing it tough and when you look at those players they really are the spine of the team,” said Murray.
“We were getting down to the bare bones so it’s great we’ve managed to bring in Ethan and Connor.
“They both bolster the squad and give us a bit of extra strength in depth and that couldn’t come at a much more needed time.”
Meanwhile, Murray was once again forced to miss Saturday’s game at West Wales Raiders due to self-isolating having come into close contact with someone from outside the club who tested positive for coronavirus.
He also had to watch the previous week’s 68-0 defeat to Doncaster from home, and admits it is a difficult way to watch the team in action.
“It’s an extremely strange and frustrating experience watching the game from home,” added Murray.
“I was able to keep in touch over the phone with the coaching staff, but there is always a slight delay on the stream so I was always behind the play compared to them, which isn’t ideal but we were able to get by.
“It was a Welsh derby with fans back in so it was frustrating to miss that one as well, but it is what it is.”
LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman is confident that once he can get some consistency within his team, performances and results will follow.
Saturday’s defeat to Barrow was their fifth loss in seven games this season, but they are without a number of key strike players who should be ready to return in the coming weeks.
“We seem to have had to play four or five different players each week but I’m hoping we’ll soon get most people back fit,” said Coleman, who named himself in the squad to face Barrow on Saturday.
“That and it will add more competition to the side, which will hopefully give us a bit more consistency in our performances
“We’ve not had the easiest start to the season with a number of away fixtures, but we knew that would pay off later in the year because once these players are coming back to fitness we’ll be playing a number of games at home and they’ll be coming back in ready to go.
“We have some players due back in that have played at the highest level and will cause teams some problems, so we’ll have some real threat on the edges.
“We’ll be a very different proposition once players are back so if we can pick up some wins and string some performances together, they come back into a side with some momentum behind them.”
DONCASTER could be well represented in the World Cup after two of their stars were called into Jamaica’s train-on squad for the tournament.
Back rower Danny Bravo and prop Ross Peltier will join up with the rest of the Reggae Warriors in a three-day training camp to be held at Weetwood Hall in Leeds between June 22-24.
“It’s an absolute honour for the club to provide two players to the Jamaican train-on squad,” said Dons chief executive Carl Hall.
“I am sure the boys will go into camp and train the house down and we hope to see them both taking part in the Rugby League World Cup in October.”
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