Betfred League One news round-up

SWINTON LIONS have announced the signing of 23 year old outside-back, Jayden Hatton.

Hatton came through the scholarship and academy system with his home-town club Widnes Vikings, and made his first team debut there in 2019.

After a successful 2021 season with Widnes, he briefly signed full-time terms with Leigh Centurions ahead of the 2022 campaign, but then had to reconsider owing to other commitments.

However, he is now eagerly looking forward to getting back into action at Swinton.

Lions’ Head Coach Allan Coleman said, “It’s great to have got Jayden on board at Swinton. He was a player that we very much liked last year when he was at Widnes. He’s a very strong and powerful player and he will add lots of quality to our squad.”

Hatton added, “I am really pleased to have signed for Swinton because it is a great club. I really want to help the Lions get promoted back to the Championship and I believe the squad here is strong enough to do so. I’m raring to go and I can’t wait for my first game with the lads.”

Swinton have also taken 21 year old half-back Owain Abel on a month’s loan from National Conference League side Pilkington Recs. Abel is already well-known to Allan Coleman, having previously been selected for his England Under 23s international community team set up.


ROCHDALE HORNETS assistant coach Gary Thornton has praised everyone at the club for making his transition from the top job a relatively smooth one.

Thornton left his role as head coach at Hunslet last summer, and previous to that had held the same role at Batley Bulldogs, York City Knights and Doncaster.

The Hornets gave Thornton a route back into the game at the end of last year and that is something he is very thankful for.

“I’m really enjoying being back in the game at Rochdale,” said Thornton.

“It’s been a tough transition after being a head coach for so long, but Matt (Calland) has made that pretty easy. He has involved me in everything that we do and all the plans.

“We’ve both got a very similar view in how we want to play the game, so it’s been great.

“It’s been quite a refreshing change as well. The pressure is always on the head coach so I am there to try and relieve some of that from Matt and give him all the help he wants.

“I have got quite a bit of experience so hopefully Matt can draw on that as well and between us we can work together really well.

“It’s tough to coach at this level and you need good people around you and share the work load. That’s what I’m here to do.

“I’m really grateful to Matt and Andy (Mazey – chairman) for giving me the opportunity to come to such a great club. It’s great to be back in the game and coaching at this level again.”


OLDHAM coach Stuart Littler has been left pleased with the way his squad have reacted since their second-round Challenge Cup defeat to amateur side Lock Lane.

Littler admits a lot of questions had to be answered after that defeat, but signs that they had done that could be seen after Oldham defeated Keighley Cougars in their final pre-season fixture.

“It was important that we tried to get back on the horse as quickly as we could and allow ourselves the chance to right a few wrongs,” said Littler.

“It gave us the chance to put some structures in place that we’ve worked on since the Lock Lane defeat and get us ready to put our best foot forward going into the league season.

“The boys reacted to that loss in the right way and we’ve had some real focus in the group. At first we had some honesty – we were not about belittling anyone – it was about learning from it.

“We know we’ll have peaks and troughs throughout the season but it’s about pulling together and coming out of those the other side and showing what we’re about as a club.

“They have all reacted really well and worked really hard in one of the longest pre-seasons we’ve ever had. But credit to the boys, we keep challenging them and they are responding to that.”

One setback from that Keighley fixture was a knee injury to Sean Slater, however the club have since revealed it is not as serious as initially thought.

“It’s definitely not as serious as first feared,” added Littler.

“But we are waiting for final reports until the swelling on his knee has subsided.

“Thankfully, it’s definitely not his ACL, but we are now waiting and hoping it’s not a medial ligament that’s damaged.”


KEIGHLEY COUGARS coach Rhys Lovegrove can already see the benefits of a number of his players linking up with Bradford Bulls’ reserves team during pre-season as a way of getting some much needed game time.

Dalton Desmond-Walker, Chris Cullimore, Anthony Dyne and Anesu Mudoti are among the players who have spent time with Mark Dunning’s squad at their West Yorkshire rivals, before returning to the Cougars for the warm-up game against Oldham.

“We’ve had a few lads playing at Bradford in their reserves ahead of their opportunity pull on a Keighley jersey in the Oldham game,” said Lovegrove.

“I like to see proof of application and that’s what the link with Bradford gives us. Those lads have an opportunity to go out and prove to me that they can execute the things they have been told to work on.

“A few of them have really put their hands up over the last few weeks and have probably moved up the pecking order a bit. There were a couple of rewards earned for team selection against Oldham off the back of some of the performances at Bradford, and the feedback we’ve had from the Bulls as well.

“People talk about culture and looking at the person before the player. Some of the feedback we’ve had from Bradford is that it has been a pleasure to have our players there and that they have really engaged with the environment. That’s the biggest plus for me.

“I am really proud of the boys that have been at Bradford because they have used it as an opportunity to better their game.”

Elsewhere the club have announced that fullback Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e has joined Sheffield Eagles on a four-week loan as injury cover for Josh Guzdek.


WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Ashley Bateman admits he has put his playing career on hold in order to take the first steps on the coaching ladder.

The 32-year-old was the only ever present in the side last year but admits his focus is now on leading the team off the field, rather than playing a role on it.

“I’ve known for a few years now that I wanted to get into coaching, but I never thought it would happen this soon,” said Bateman.

“This isn’t the normal route to being a head coach, normally you’d start as an assistant first, but this was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

“So I am just going in head first and will give it my best.

“The club did approach me about taking a player coach, or player assistant coach role as well when we first started talking about it, but I’m just going to commit to being a coach and fully concentrating on that for now.

“We all know what its like at the end of the season when it gets hard with injuries and commitments elsewhere, so you can never say never about putting the boots on again.

“I am still young enough to play, but for now I’m just going to focus on coaching.”


Following their defeat to Hunslet Club Parkside in the third round of the Challenge Cup, LONDON SKOLARS will return to the field this Friday in their annual Capital Challenge match in the heart of the city.

The game was originally scheduled to take place against London Broncos in January, but Coronavirus cases at the start of the year caused its postponement.

With the Broncos’ Championship season now underway, the Skolars will instead play the Army and coach Joe Mbu believes that the game will offer perfect preparation for the upcoming League One season.

“The Army will be a different challenge but it’s one we’re looking forward to,” said Mbu.

“It’ll be new for them too so it will be good to see how they rise to the challenge.

“The game will really test us. We wanted to prepare ourselves the best we could for League One and it won’t come any better than this. They are big, strong and aggressive and offer everything we need to test the squad and see where we are at.

“There is nothing quite like playing at the Honourable Artillery Company. It doesn’t matter how many times you play there, it’s always surreal. It’s a very special setting and it’s always a memorable day, so it’s something we’re all looking forward to being a part of.”


HUNSLET have started to step up their work on an attacking style of play, according to coach Alan Kilshaw.

In the club’s first three outing of the season – Challenge Cup ties against Keighley Cougars and Siddal and a pre-season game against a young Leeds Rhinos side – they conceded just one score per game, before going down 30-8 to North Wales Crusaders in the Cup.

With conditions starting to improve, a more open style of play is expected once the season gets underway.

“It was pleasing to only concede one score in the first three games,” said Kilshaw.

“We had been more focussed on our defence, especially in the early part of pre-season, but more recently we’ve been doing a bit more on our attack. If we can marry the two up we’ll definitely be going in the right direction.

“Defence and fitness wins early games, so that’s why we are more focussed on that – especially with how the weather is at this time of year.

“But we’re fortunate that League One starts in late March and we will be playing in the bulk of summer months. It means there is a lot more to come from our attack.

“The later start allows for more open play and with quite a lot of teams in the league playing good, open rugby, it promises to be a great season.”


CORNWALL coach Neil Kelly has backed the way the club’s owners are going about growing the new club from scratch.

Some previous expansion clubs have made it easier for their travelling players to train closer to the northern heartlands before making the trip to their outpost locations for their games.

Toronto did it training in Brighouse and Manchester and Hemel did it having their sessions in both Dewsbury and Sheffield in previous years, while others rely on a number of their key players driving long distances to attend sessions and games.

But that is not a model Kelly is keen to copy.

“Some other cubs have taken the approach of ‘let’s train at a sports centre in the north because we’re going to be signing northern lads’, but were training at Penryn and insisting that 99 percent of the players playing for us will be living in the area,” said Kelly.

“We’re doing it differently to training in the north and catching a bus to the game just as the away side would be doing. That is an unsustainable situation.

“You have got to have players that want to represent area they’re playing in. For us, that area is Cornwall so we want the players to be down here.

“It’s a slightly new model on some of the development clubs the game has had in recent history, and I have got enough faith that the players and ownership to want to be a part of that.”


DONCASTER‘s new signing Keelan Foster has said this was the right for him to get back into the game.

The 22-year-old came through the ranks at Bradford Bulls and went on to make a number of first team appearances for the club – the last of which was in 2019. He has since had some time out of the game but is now excited by the new challenge ahead.

“Doncaster are a good club that want to go in the right direction,” prop Foster told the Dons’ website.

“It seems that they have good people here in staff and players so I am really excited to get going.

“A lot of thought went into this move and I spoke to a lot of people and came to the decision that this is the right club for me.

“It’s a good place for me to get back into the game and hopefully kick on and go forward with the club.

“I’ve still been training but I have missed everything about rugby so I am really looking forward to getting stuck in at training and pushing forward for when the season starts.

“I just want to be involved in all the games I can possibly be involved in and push on for promotion at the end of the year.

“That is my main goal, and that of all the players.”


NORTH WALES CRUSADERS‘ aim for the new season is a simple one according to new recruit Pat Rainford.

The hooker joined the club from Leigh East in the off-season and made his debut against Swinton Lions in the Challenge Cup last month.

“I saw a lot of the back end of last season and we did really well,” Rainford told the Leader Newspaper.

“Muzza (coach Anthony Murray) always tells us it’s one game at a time so, if we compete, we can make sure we’re in with a chance of winning every game.

“We’re not setting any big goals, but we’ll certainly be going into each game with the aim of coming out on top and we’ll see where that takes us.

“I started pre-season as a trialist, but I’ve set a good base and earned myself a contract. I’m not taking anything for granted. I’ve worked hard to get into the team and I’m going to make sure I keep doing that every week so I’m hopefully in the side.”


MIDLANDS HURRICANES coach Richard Squires is pleased to see that the club continues to strengthen their close relationship with Coventry Bears.

Having re-branded as the Hurricanes at the end of last year, the Bears name will live on in the community game by playing in the Southern Conference League.

Their coach in that competition will be Alex Brown, the first local signing announced by the old Bears club ahead of their debut season in League One. He will be assisted by current Hurricanes front rower Peter Ryan, who will be aiming to represent Ireland in this year’s World Cup.

“It’s great that those two have got the job there,” said Squires.

“It creates that link to the club without me having to be there or be too directly involved.

“Peter wants to get his feet into coaching, so this is great for him, but I’ll still be seeing him every week at training to keep up with what’s happening.

“It offers a transition for players. We’ll be able to keep a close eye on that group and if anyone impresses we can give then an opportunity in our team.”

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.