Rochdale Hornets chairman Andy Mazey believes the signing of Rangi Chase could be just what is needed to kick-start their season.
The Hornets have struggled with injuries at the start of the campaign and went into Sunday’s game with North Wales Crusaders having won just two of their opening seven games.
But with promotion still a major aim for the club, Mazey is hoping the arrival of the former Man of Steel, who was released by West Wales Raiders so he could return north to be closer to his family, will quickly see a turnaround in fortunes.
“This is a huge signing for the club,” said Mazey.
“Rob Fairclough coming in from Swinton was a big signing for us this season but we’ve lost him for the year now with an ACL injury so we needed to replace him. Who better to bring in than Rangi Chase.
“I have seen him play twice this season. In the Challenge Cup game against Widnes he was outstanding and then when we played West Wales in the opening game he caused us a lot of problems. After that game Matt (Calland – coach) said he was best number seven in this competition by a country mile.
“So when he became available, it was a no brainer to try and get him in. It’s not often you can sign a player that has played in the NRL and Super League and is a former Man of Steel that has played in some high profile games for England.
“Things weren’t working out for him down there. He wasn’t happy and he wanted to come back up to his family.
“I knew there were other clubs interest in him, but I sold him the vision of what we’re trying to do here. He knows a few guys here and was excited by what we’re trying to do so it all fell together quite nicely.
“He still believes he has things left to prove in the game and has still got some mileage in him so hopefully, once we have a few players back, adding Rangi into the mix he can be the catalyst for this team and we can push on and reach the playoffs.”
WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Aaron Wood has said it was only right they put Rangi Chase’s mental wellbeing before their own needs on the field.
The Raiders released Chase from his contract after he expressed a desire to return north to be closer to his Yorkshire-based family.
Chase was brought in as a marquee signing for the Welsh outfit, but only made four appearances before his release.
“Rangi had some issues off the field and just wanted to be closer to his family,” said Wood.
“As a club we felt it was the best decision to let him go and let him go back up north to be with his kids again.
“Mental health has to come above anything else and we’re not going to make a player play for us that’s struggling off the field. We gave him all the support we could and the best decision all round was to let him go home and be a father to his kids again.
“It’s a big blow, but as any club would do, we’ll move on and look at bringing someone else in.
“We wish him all the best.”
LONDON SKOLARS coach Jermaine Coleman has said if Greg Johnson fails to earn a contract with Batley, they would try and strike a deal for the winger.
The former Salford and Wakefield Super League man has been getting valuable game time with Skolars in recent weeks with the hope of earning a Championship contract as he prepares to turn out in the World Cup for Jamaica later this year.
“Greg is looking to get himself back into shape and was training at Batley to try and to get a contract there,” said Coleman.
“But Batley wanted to see him play, get some minutes under his belt and see how he performed. Fortunately I have a good relationship with Greg and a team that could facilitate that.
“Not only has it helped Skolars, it also helps Greg, and ultimately Jamaica, so we were more than happy to help out with a one-month trial and see how he goes. His last game with us was at the weekend we’ll just see what happens next.
“Fingers crossed he’s done enough to earn a contract with Batley and can be playing Championship rugby for rest of the season. Should he not, I’m sure he’d be able to come back down here and play a little bit more with us.
“He brings a lot to the team, super motivated for what’s coming at the end of year
“Fingers crossed he gets the best deal possible for him, but if not we would take the opportunity to get him on the books here if we could.”
BARROW RAIDERS have made a hat-trick of signings with two new faces arriving at the Matt Johnson Prestige Stadium, and one other player committing to the club for a further three years.
Former St Helens Super League player Gary Wheeler, who has also played for Warrington and Toronto has signed for the remainder of the season, as has Liam Harrison, who links up with his brother Ben at the Raiders.
Liam played over 300 games for Barrow between 2005 and 2016, and was part of the 2009 Championship winning team, when he was also named in the league’s team of the year.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the signings,” said chairman Steve Neale on Wheeler and Harrison.
“It’s another statement of intent around the quality of personnel we are recruiting and when we get our injured stars back there will now be an embarrassment of riches and real selection headaches.
“Barrow Raiders are determined to gain promotion to complement all the great work that has been going on off the field.
Joining them in putting pen to paper is this season’s top try scorer Theerapol Ritson who will now remain at the club until the end of 2024.
“I really feel like this club is going places, and I’m humbled that the club want to include me on their journey,” added Ritson.
“From day one this club and the town in general have welcomed me with open arms, and I’m looking forward to returning my gratitude on the pitch and within the community.”
When DONCASTER‘s Matty Beharrell added the conversion to his own last minute try to secure a draw at Hunslet just over a week ago, it saw him hit the 400 point landmark for the club.
In doing so, he overtook chief executive Carl Hall in the club’s all-time points scorer table.
Only six players have now scored more points for the club than Beharrell – Mark Roache (448), David Towle (504), Stewart Sanderson (516). Johnny Woodcock (552) and Graham Holroyd (860) – but he still has some way to go to catch up with David Noble, the club’s record points scorer with 1,751.
“Records are there to be broken and I’m really happy for Matty to overtake me in that chart,” said Hall who scored 394 points in his playing career at the club.
“He’s a great lad who’s doing really well for the club and enjoying his time with us.
“I’m made up for him and hopefully he can push on and get a bit higher up, although I think it will be hard for him to catch up to the very top.
“But hopefully he can score many more points for Doncaster, he’s already talking about adding another zero onto his total.”
Beharrell, who joined the club mid way through 2018, is also delighted with the feat, but is not ready to leave his points-scoring exploits there.
“I’ve passed the legend and am very proud to do so as well,” he added.
“If I can leave half the impression that Carl has on the club I will be a very happy man. Every time I pull that shirt on I will give it my all.”
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS coach Anthony Murray can’t wait to welcome supporters back when they host Rochdale Hornets on Sunday.
Although clubs across England have been able to have a crowd in at home games in recent weeks, the Crusaders have been operation under different rules laid down by the Welsh Government.
They were due to welcome fans into the game against Doncaster earlier this month, but that was prevented at the eleventh hour due to Covid infection rates in the area.
Not only will it be the first time Crusaders fans have seen their team in action at home since February 2020, it will also be their first visit to the new ZipWorld Stadium.
“It has been a long time coming,” said Murray.
“Everyone was disappointed they couldn’t get in for the Doncaster game, but it will be great to finally see them back this weekend.
“One of the reasons we decided to move there was to see what other people from a different area might be interested in Rugby League. If we’d had many more behind closed doors games there it wouldn’t have given us as much of a chance to do that.
“Hopefully we can get some games in front of our old supporters and new ones too and really capitalise on the move.”
KEIGHLEY COUGARS general manager Lisa Gill has said the club are doing all they can to keep everyone safe after Covid-19 forced the postponement of the game against Coventry Bears recently.
Some players were still in self-isolation for Sunday’s game against London Skolars, but Gill is hoping they won’t face too much more disruption this year.
“The players are in a difficult situation because they’re largely in an age group which are just being called up for their vaccination, so they’re essentially vulnerable,” Gill told the Keighley News.
“We can control what they do at Cougar Park, but then they’ve all got their lives as teachers, doctors and in construction, their daily work.
“We’re working closely with the RFL, operating within the latest guidelines and we’re making the safety and well being of the players a priority, as well as our spectators, who we want to feel confident in coming down to Cougar Park.
“But it’s difficult for everybody around the world at the moment, but we’re doing everything we can to keep everyone safe.”
COVENTRY BEARS back rower Kieran Sherratt could well have been the most relieved man at the club when the game against Keighley Cougars got postponed last weekend.
It meant the decision on whether or not to play whilst nursing a wrist injury was taken out of everyone’s hands.
The Bears returned to action against Doncaster on Sunday, with coach Richard Squires confirming it was being left to the medical team to make the call on Sherratt’s availability.
“Kieran played in the previous game against Workington with an avulsion fracture in his wrist,” said Squires.
“He played in the centre as well, which isn’t his natural position so he did really well and it was some effort from him.
“He’s pulled a muscle away from the bone and it has taken a bit of bone away with it. So we’re waiting to see what the specialist says, but it’s the sort of injury that he can’t do any more damage to if he plays on with it.
“We’ve had to be really careful with him and I’m leaving the physio and doctor make the call on when he plays. If they give him the green light, I’ll pick him.”
HUNSLET prop Alex Rowe is confident the club are over their early season blip and that their promotion challenge is now firmly back on track.
“We were behind the 8-ball a bit at the beginning of the season because of limited training opportunities at the council-owned South Leeds Stadium, given Covid-19 protocols,” said Rowe.
“Then we were hit by quite a lot of injuries, including to influential players, which set us back still further.
“We were a bit light in the middles but our coach Gary Thornton has recruited well. He’s brought in a few lads who have really strengthened us, and I’d now back our pack against any in the league.”
WORKINGTON TOWN coach Chris Thorman has not ruled out adding more recruits to his squad throughout this season.
Rhys Clark and Joe Brown have recently become permanent Town players after initial loan spells and Thorman admits further strengthening is never not on his mind.
“I am always actively looking to bring players in,” said Thorman.
“I am always talking to agents, Championship clubs and even Super League clubs who are looking for valuable game time to their young players.
“If anyone’s available that is going to add value, enhance our group and fit the bill for us, we’ll be interested.”
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