Betfred League One news round-up

SWINTON LIONS coach Allan Coleman says he is using their week’s advantage ahead of the play-off final to “be smart” and rest up for the big game.

By defeating Doncaster the weekend before last, Swinton ensured a two-week break before hosting the promotion decider this weekend.

And while they had to wait to find out who they will play, with Doncaster battling Rochdale Hornets yesterday (Sunday) for the honour, Swinton have been preparing in earnest.

Coleman said: “We’ve trained hard for four weeks now and there’s no need to train the house down more. 

“We’ll be smart, rest bodies, work on combinations, work on videos, and just do the little things we can improve.”

Although waiting last week to discover their opponents – “both really good sides,”, in Coleman’s estimation – he said the Lions’ primary focus was on themselves anyway.

“All year we’ve focused on us,” said Coleman.

“We rest, we work on us – we always work on us, that’s the most important thing, that we’re good.”


HUNSLET Chairman Kenny Sykes has stressed the positives in his review of a 2022 season, which saw the club miss out on the play-offs.

The Parksiders lost their last six games of the year to let a top-six finish slip from their grasp, culminating with a final-day loss to Oldham who snatched the final play-off place from them.

They won only eight of 20 matches and, although in June they beat North Wales Crusaders who went on to finish third, they did not defeat a traditional heartland side all season.

Nevertheless, Sykes said he was pleased with the job that head coach Alan Kilshaw did with a reduced budget.

“Although disappointed to miss out on the play-offs, there are a lot of positives to take from the season and I am very optimistic for 2023,” said Sykes.

“At the start of the campaign, the board made a conscious decision to take a prudent view on the playing budget, for two reasons. 

“The first was uncertainty around what we were playing for (i.e. would there be promotion pending the decision on restructuring by IMG) and the second was uncertainty as to the revenues that could be generated after the pandemic. 

“As guardians of the club, survival remains our number one priority.

“We tasked our head coach Alan Kilshaw with putting together a squad that would be made up of young local lads and remain competitive in terms of a push for a play-off position. 

“Despite a significant cut to the budget, Alan was able to assemble a squad that was pushing for the play-offs right to the final game of the season, only missing out on points difference. 

“However, the main positive for me has been the emergence of a group of young players who will provide a solid platform for our 2023 campaign. 

“Harvey Hallas, Harvey Whiteley, Jack Render, Jordan Syme and Josh Jordan-Roberts, together with one or two others to be announced very shortly, have already committed to the badge for next season and there are a few others to follow. 

“Alan is also well on with contract negotiations with additions that will undoubtedly strengthen the squad.”

One of those is Nathan Conroy, who has returned to the club on a one-year deal from Cornwall.


KEIGHLEY COUGARS signing Lloyd Roby says the support offered by his new club as he bids to return from serious injury helped convince him to make the move.

Versatile back Roby has signed a two-year contract to join Keighley from next season, switching from Widnes Vikings to bring more Championship experience to the club ahead of their first campaign in the second tier since 2014.

The 23-year-old has been sidelined since May by a knee injury but is looking forward to a fresh start in West Yorkshire.

“I chose Keighley because, after speaking with Andrew (Henderson, Keighley’s head of rugby) and Rhys (Lovegrove, head coach) it was clear on what they wanted to achieve and that matched what I want to achieve,” said Roby.

“But it was also the way that Andrew and Rhys spoke to me about my injury and wanted to give me an opportunity to get back fit and allow me to get back to my best.

“So, my decision was an easy one when it came to signing with Keighley.

“Over the next couple of years, I think the club can achieve a lot of good things and for me on a personal level I want to play my best rugby.

“But I can also improve, and I think under Rhys and his coaching staff, I will be able to achieve that with the Cougars.” 

Henderson said: “We felt it was a calculated risk signing Lloyd who unfortunately is recovering currently from an ACL injury.

“He is still a young player at 23 years of age and has been developed in a good system at Widnes.

“Lloyd has already player over 50 first-team games at Championship level and was in brilliant form this season for Widnes prior to his injury.

“He has been signed on a two-year deal as we believe Lloyd has a strong future and can progress his career further here at Keighley.

“But there is an option in place to protect us in the unlikely event things don’t go to plan.”


ROCHDALE HORNETS coach Gary Thornton has hailed Dan Nixon as “one of the bravest young players” he has seen after securing the 20-year-old on a new contract.

Following his debut the previous season, winger Nixon has become a regular in the side in 2022 and took his tally for the year to 10 tries with a double in their play-off win at North Wales Crusaders which set up yesterday’s preliminary final at Doncaster.

The youngster has now signed a new one-year deal and Thornton said: “Dan is one of the bravest young players I’ve seen for some time. 

“He always puts his body on the line whether carrying out of the backfield, going for the corner or competing for the high ball.

“His enthusiasm is infectious and he always has a smile on his face. Also, his attitude and approach to training and playing is exemplary for a young man, and I’m sure if he continues with those values he will go far in the game.

“He’s a local lad too and clearly enjoys representing Rochdale. And, as such a popular member of the group, he’s a really key individual to have re-signed.”

Nixon said: “I’m proud to sign for 2023 and eager to see what the new year will hold.

“I’ve enjoyed every game and taken something away each time, whether it be from a win or a loss.”

Chairman Andy Mazey added: “Dan has become a Rochdale Hornets fans’ favourite, so I know our supporters will be delighted with this news.

“Securing the club’s brightest young talent has been a top priority and Dan is a great example of this.”

Rochdale have also retained the services of 19-year-old prop Ben Killan for 2023.


DONCASTER’S play-off campaign has been given the support of Samoa head coach Matt Parish.

Samoa will be based in Doncaster throughout the upcoming World Cup, with a squad full of NRL stars set to train at Cantley Park.

They will also play one of their group fixtures at the Eco-Power Stadium, when they take on Greece on Sunday, October 23.

Parish, a former Salford coach who has led Samoa since 2013, sent a message to Richard Horne’s side ahead of their play-off game at Swinton Lions, which they won to set up yesterday’s preliminary final against Rochdale Hornets.

“Just want to wish the Dons all the best of luck in the upcoming play-off series this year,” said Parish.

“All the boys and I can’t wait to check out your great city of Doncaster and we look forward to catching up with you all on your presentation night on the 7th. Go the Dons!”

Keelan Foster was unavailable for the Rochdale clash after the forward received a one-match ban for Grade B dangerous contact in the Swinton victory.


MIDLANDS HURRICANES coach Richard Squires says “it’s only the start” for the club after a tumultuous first season under their new guise.

Following their rebranding from Coventry Bears, Midlands have been playing at a different ground in Portway and hope to move to the Alexander Stadium next year.

Club founder Alan Robinson left the Hurricanes, with Mike Lomas now in full control of the club.

Head coach Squires was suspended from Rugby League for two months earlier in the season for breaching RFL betting rules, during which time Dave Scott took charge.

And the playing group has seen flux, with the club struggling to put teams together in the final weeks of the campaign.

“It’s been a stop-start season, both on and off the field,” said Squires.

“We’ve had a group of players who jumped on board and stuck with us; we lost a few along the way and a few have joined us.

“I’m really proud of the group that has stuck together. There have been some highs and lows this year. 

“We didn’t quite match our own expectations of where we wanted to go, but it’s a stepping stone for the journey we want to go on and it’s only the start for us.”


NORTH WALES CRUSADERS can be proud of their achievements in 2022, according to outgoing coach Anthony Murray.

For the second season running, the Crusaders secured a third-place finish before losing both ties in the play-offs to end their promotion hopes.

But Murray, who last week was announced as the new head coach at Workington Town, looks back with satisfaction.

“We had a fantastic league campaign again; for three quarters of the season we were sat in the top two, which was a fantastic achievement for everybody involved in the club,” he said. 

“We got some injuries towards the end of the season and the play-offs, we had to go into the community game to fill some spaces, and we just fell a little short.

“It was nothing but a great season. It just wasn’t meant to be in the play-offs for a second time. 

“But we hit a lot of the targets and goals we set as a group, so I have nothing but proud memories.”


CORNWALL will be without the services of Nathan Conroy next season after the halfback returned to his former side Hunslet.

But the 27-year-old remains grateful for the opportunity to have played for the fledgling club and bringing him back into the game.

Conroy had been out of Rugby League since the beginning of the Covid pandemic until reaching out to the Choughs midway through the 2022 campaign.

“Their coach Neil Kelly was happy to accommodate me having to miss a few games, and he was also keen to play me at halfback,” said Conroy, who played a handful of Super League games with Bradford Bulls before spells with Dewsbury Rams, Keighley Cougars and Coventry Bears.

“I’ve usually played at hooker – for a long time in fact, I’ve been a professional for ten years – but I really enjoyed it in the halves, where I relished the different responsibility

“It was a really good experience at Cornwall but the travel, given my business responsibilities in Leeds, was an issue and I needed to come back to the north.”


OLDHAM have had two players slapped with lengthy bans for offences in their play-off defeat to Rochdale Hornets.

After a brilliant late charge into the top six, their season was ended by the loss to their local rivals in the opening play-off round.

The defeat has been compounded by bans for forward Callum Cameron and Emmerson Whittel for separate offences.

Cameron has received an eight-match suspension after pleading guilty to Grade F other contrary behaviour.

The charge noted that the youngster “became involved in an incident and threw a punch to the head of an opponent and then headbutted another opponent”.

Meanwhile Whittel pleaded guilty to a late tackle in the same game and has been banned for four games.


LONDON SKOLARS coach Joe Mbu is backing Shane Hurley to develop into a League One-quality player.

The winger made his debut for the club in the final match of the season, an away defeat to Doncaster.

He has now signed a new one-year contract with the capital club to stay at the club for a second season.

“Shane has all the raw potential to be a very competent League One player,” said Mbu of the former Hemel Stags junior. 

“He’s fast, has a good attitude and trains hard. We are looking forward to seeing him develop further in 2023.”

Hurley said: “I learnt a lot this year (about) what it takes to play at this level and I’m looking forward to competing for a shirt next season.”

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