Betfred League One news round-up

HUNSLET have continued their recruitment for 2023 with the signing of Doncaster forward Aaron York.

York, who had a spell with the Wakefield Trinity Academy before leaving for Australia, hails from the Hunslet area and admits that the chance to return to his roots proved vital when making a future decision.

The second-rower said: “I’m excited about joining Hunslet as it’s where it all started for me, with the neighbouring Warriors, as an amateur.

“Equally importantly, what head coach Alan Kilshaw is trying to implement is something special, and I’m really looking forward to the season. I know a few of the lads here already, from playing with or against them, so settling in isn’t an issue.”

22-year-old York is also keen to bring some flair to the West Yorkshire side: “I like to play off the cuff and I like to be a threat with my offload,” he continued, “while I also play with some aggression and get my team-mates up for the game.”

Kilshaw has already brought in the likes of Bradford Bulls man Joe Burton and ex-St Helens youngster Nico Rizzelli and he is happy to add York to his squad.

Kilshaw said: “We’re really happy to have Aaron join the club for next season; he is a real handful and a very skilful player.

“With the other signings we have made, he adds strike out wide, and he also fits into how we want to develop our game model next season with his offloads and running threat.”

Kilshaw concluded: “He has loads of development in him and has a really good attitude; I’m anticipating a really strong pre-season from him leading into the 2023 campaign.”


DEWSBURY RAMS’ new head coach Liam Finn has hailed the stoicism of fans’ favourite Andy Gabriel after the winger was handed a new deal.

Gabriel will be entering his fifth season with the Rams, but he was sidelined towards the back end of 2022 with a serious anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Despite that, Finn and the club have rewarded Gabriel with a new contract following his superb form in recent seasons. 

Finn said: “Gabes has had a rough couple of months after learning he ruptured his cruciate ligament against Widnes.

 “He’s in for surgery this week and we wish him all the best with his rehab and look forward to having him back on the field. 

“We all know how good Gabes has been for us the last few years and his goal to get back on the field playing well will be supported by everyone at the club.”

On re-signing for next year, Gabriel said: “I’m happy to have re-signed for 2023; obviously last year was a disappointing one topped off with the injury. 

“The positive side of this injury is that I’m feeling more focused than ever to get into the best shape I can and hopefully get back out there and help the lads push for promotion.”

The Rams will be in the third tier in 2023 after suffering relegation from the Championship.


OLDHAM coach Stuart Littler has continued his off-season recruitment and retention by signing former Widnes, North Wales Crusaders and Samoa winger Patrick Ah Van on a one-year contract and agreeing new deals with hooker Sean Slater and utility back Kian Morgan.

Fresh from the news of contract extensions for Emmerson Whittel and Joe Hartley, the Roughyeds have wasted no time in nailing down rising stars Morgan and Slater.

Slater, a former Huddersfield Academy player, endured a difficult 2022 after missing a large chunk of the season through injury, but he is keen to repay Oldham as he harbours ambitions to return to the top flight one day, with Littler waxing lyrical about the Lancastrian.

“He’s an Oldham boy and his heart is definitely in the club. His family are ‘belongers’ too, if you know what I mean by that,” he said.

“Last season was his first experience of playing against men and didn’t he do well?

“He’s done a lot of specialist and extra work with Shez (assistant coach Brendan Sheridan) and his confidence grew in the latter part of the season once he was properly over his knee injury.

“He’s lively and exciting from dummy-half and at the back end of the year, he proved he had the ability to come off the bench and change a game, no more so than at Cornwall.

“He ultimately got a red card and was banned for two games, but before that, he ran the show after coming on and both Shez and I are excited at the prospect of working with him again.”

Former Ireland coach Littler was also keen to stress the importance of a new deal for Morgan, who previously played for Halifax and Castleford. He is just 21, but has made a big impression.

Littler said: “We have high hopes of Kian. He has a very high skill set and his attitude is second to none. 

“Shez and I are delighted he has re-signed and delighted that we are playing a part in his development.”


ROCHDALE HORNETS Chairman Andy Mazey has revealed that there will be cuts to the playing budget for 2023, but that they won’t cut the club’s ambition.

The Lancashire club reached the League One semi-finals in 2022, but were beaten 52-20 by Doncaster, with the Dons then being beaten by the Swinton Lions in the final.

Mazey has revealed that there will be significant issues to overcome off the field, which will reduce the club’s spend for 2023.

“Due to ongoing issues with our landlord we are now facing major challenges off the field, which include, but are not limited to, vastly increased costs and reduced income, which continue to damage our business and relationships with our customer base,” Mazey said.

“As a result we have had to reduce the playing budget significantly for 2023 and we won’t be one of the higher spenders in the competition, like we have been for the past two seasons.”

Despite the reduction in spending, the Rochdale chief remains defiant as the club aims for a play-off place again in 2023. 

“We expect to be competing at the top end of the competition and targeting a play-off place once again,” Mazey continued.

“Based on our seventh and fifth placed finishes in 2021 and 2022, money isn’t everything, and with Gary (Thornton) at the helm and the exciting squad that’s being put together, we are excited for the new season.

“We are fully committed to supporting Gary and the team with the backing of our loyal supporters and sponsors.”


LONDON SKOLARS head coach Joe Mbu believes that his club and the London Broncos deserve more credit for the number of young players they are providing for Rugby League.

The likes of Jarred Bassett, Jonny Bell and Doug Chirnside made their name for the Skolars in 2022, with all three coming from the amateur game and Southern Conference League sides in the capital.

Mbu believes that the two London clubs are integral for developing future stars.

The Skolars coach said: “Northern clubs get a lot of credit for identifying players from amateur sides and giving them the opportunity of the professional game. 

“We and London Broncos provide a good pathway into the professional game and there will be plenty more players that are good enough from the amateur sides in London over the coming years, I am sure of it.”

Mbu, who returned to the Skolars in 2022, helping to guide the capital club to six wins last season, believes it is key that his side remains predominantly filled with London born and developed players.

He continued: “That’s always been my ethos for the club; we have access to a huge number of athletes in London, as always, we have to get it right with the younger ages and introducing them to the sport at an early age and showcasing how great the game is and the pathway to being a professional player. 

“Ultimately, if we are to continue to grow the game we have to keep working towards self-sufficiency.”

Going forward into 2023, Mbu wants the Skolars to improve and has hinted at further recruitment.

The 38-year-old said: “Planning is going well, we are focused on bringing in some new players, some fresh enthusiasm and quality to add to hopefully retaining the bulk of last year’s squad.

“The club, the players, myself and the coaching team are not satisfied with where we are and believe there is a lot more to come from the team.”


MIDLANDS HURRICANES highest-scoring player in the club’s history, Hayden Freeman, has signed a new deal with the club, as has Matty Welham.

With head coach Richard Squires putting his stamp on the League One club’s squad, it’s been a busy few weeks in terms of retention and recruitment.

The likes of Connor Gilbey and Matthew Bailey joined the club last week, with Freeman and Welham putting pen to paper on extended stays with the Hurricanes.


WORKINGTON TOWN player Jamie Doran has left the Cumbrian club following their relegation to League One.

Doran, who played almost 200 games for Town after coming through the ranks at the Wigan Warriors, leaves Derwent Park after eight years at the club.

Town said in a statement: “Jamie Doran has made the decision to move on from our club to continue to play in the Championship.

“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for his long service and leadership here at Town and wish him and his family all the very best for the future.”

Doran played his junior rugby at Kells and at St Benedict’s RU club, and was also part of the Cumbria squad that recently beat Jamaica 28-12 at Derwent Park.


DONCASTER chief executive Carl Hall has spoken of his joy that Ben Johnston, Connor Robinson and Greg Burns have decided to pledge their futures to the South Yorkshire club.

Johnston scored 18 tries in 19 appearances in 2022, which saw him named as the club’s Player of the Year, whilst Robinson was the top points scorer in 2022 with 226 in total.

The last of the trio, Burns, signed from Sheffield Eagles at the end of last season, scoring four tries in 19 appearances with all three playing vital roles in Doncaster’s nail-biting Grand Final loss to Swinton.

“We are extremely happy to get Ben, Connor and Greg signed up for next season as all three played a crucial role last season,” said Hall.

“The fact they wanted to stay with us and build on what we did in 2022 shows we are doing things the right way.”

Hall was also keen to point out that there will be more announcements soon.

“With these announcements and more to come in the next few weeks, we feel we are already building nicely for next season.”


CORNWALL coach Neil Kelly has spoken of his monumental pride in the club’s maiden season as a professional club.

Though the Choughs won just once all season, they made important strides on and off the field with attendances averaging over 1,000 and the camaraderie of the group shining through – with Kelly hoping to take this experience forward for 2023.

“I’m really proud of everything we have done this year,” Kelly said.

“I think one victory in 20 games is scant reward for the commitment, endeavour and the effort that everybody has put in. When I talk about those things, I mean everyone involved with the club.

“We have done the game of Rugby League proud by laying a good foundation for the sport in Cornwall.

“We have certainly moved on from our first game against North Wales back in April and now it’s about where we go from here. We will look to make improvements to personnel, environment and keep hold of the players that have made us strong, while looking at others that would make us stronger.”


WEST WALES RAIDERS fans will have one of their own to cheer on in the Rugby League World Cup with prop forward Joe Burke included in John Kear’s Wales squad.

The 32-year-old prop, who has been with the Raiders since 2018, already has twelve Wales caps under his belt but the former Barrow and Oldham player looks certain to add to that tally in the weeks to follow. 

Burke also has one Super League appearance to his name with the Crusaders in 2011.


NORTH WALES CRUSADERS enjoyed another stellar year in League One in 2022, finishing third and reaching the play-off semi-finals.

And, former head coach Mike Grady, who led the club between 2016 and 2018, has backed the Welsh side to improve even further, despite them not being able to spend as much as other sides.

“It’s been great to see North Wales going so well, with a third place finish this season, and it was a third place the season before. 

“There has been a level of consistency there with the playing personnel which has allowed the club to build some momentum and continuity over the last three or four seasons. 

“I know from my time there that the playing budget is very modest compared to the other clubs in the league and they spend within their means, so to do what they have done has been fantastic. 

“Credit has to go to Andy Moulsdale and the board for their move to Conway, as again this seems to have given the club a real push and a feel-good factor about it.”

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