Betfred League One news round-up

KEIGHLEY COUGARS forward Jake Webster has said this year could prove to be the perfect send off for him as he celebrates a 12-month testimonial campaign.

The 38-year-old moved to the UK in 2008 to join Hull KR, where he spent five seasons, before becoming a fans’ favourite at Castleford Tigers. After six years with the Tigers, Webster spent a year at Bradford Bulls before joining Keighley.

The RFL have granted the testimonial in honour of his service to the sport as well as his community work for a number of the clubs he has played for, including the Cougars.

The testimonial officially got underway on Friday with the launch of specially designed merchandise of a shirt, a polo-shirt and a cap, and will continue with a launch night at Cougar Park this Saturday.

Other events are planned throughout the year, with celebrations set to wrap up during the next pre-season when the Cougars hope to take on Castleford Tigers in a special testimonial game.

“It’s been pretty full on since I found out about the testimonial in January so it’s nice to see things coming together now,” Webster said.

“When I first came over here I didn’t know anything about testimonials. I knew some people who had had one, but didn’t know what they were for. It’s only really been the last five years or so that I’ve been going to events and asking questions about why it’s so special to people.

“It’s humbling that I have been given one for my service to the game. I have given my whole adult life to Rugby League so to get this little bit of recognition back is amazing and I feel very honoured.

“Testimonials are a great individual thing to celebrate but Rugby League is a team sport and I came to Keighley to try and be part of the resurgence of the Cougars, and if we can succeed in gaining promotion this year, I may be able to hang my boots up.

“I don’t know yet what will happen at the end of this year, but at the moment I will still do the next pre-season. My game will be in the early part of next year and I will want to be in good shape to play as long as I can in that.

“If I do decide to retire, that will probably be my final game and the best send-off I could imagine.”


DONCASTER forward Josef Fella is hoping to put a nightmare couple of years behind him as he looks to play a part in gaining promotion with the club.

The pandemic-hit 2020 season saw his time with Castleford Tigers Reserves come to an end, before injury reduced him to just one outing for his new club last year.

The 22-year-old was struck down with an inflammation of the pubic bone that caused issues throughout the whole year.

“It was a weird one last year,” Fella told Rugby League World magazine.

“It was really sore, especially when I was running. I just struggled to get going with it. I tried to punch through it, and kept up rehabilitation with the physio, trying to ease it as much as I could without the need to go for an injection and further treatment on it.

“I had to have the treatment in the end anyway. I got one game against (Workington) Town last year and that’s where it happened again, which is why I needed to go for the injection to settle it down.

“It’s been one game of rugby in two years, but it’s all sorted now.

“I’ve been in training again since late November, I’ve played a few games in the Challenge Cup and it’s been feeling good. I’m looking forward to getting out there with the boys and playing this season.

“I think we can go all the way. We’ve got a strong enough group. We’re looking very good in training. I believe we can get promoted – and I believe that we can finish top of the league to get there.”

The full interview with Fella can be read in the current issue of Rugby League, available at or by calling 01484 401895.


LONDON SKOLARS coach Joe Mbu has admitted he would have preferred to play at the weekend rather than have their bye weekend so early in the season.

The capital outfit opened their campaign with a 28-10 defeat to Hunslet and return to action on Saturday when North Wales Crusaders visit the New River Stadium.

“It was probably the worst time for us to have a bye because we just wanted to get straight back on the horse after Hunslet and put some of our errors right,” said Mbu.

“But we’ve had to wait. The positive is that we have a bit more time to do that but as players and coaches you just want to play. If you’ve just won it allows you to build momentum, but when you have just lost a game, you want to brush yourself and get out there again.

“For a spell in the second half we were down to 11 men but the spirit and resilience the boys showed was great. After losing a hooker the halves were still able to control the game and we were a threat in attack, so there were some positives, but the negative is that we lost. Had we had 13 players on the pitch for the full 80 minutes I am confident the score would have been different.

“It gets no easier with North Wales at the weekend. It will be a challenge, as will all games in this league this year. But we just need to raise our game and stand up and be counted.”


ROCHDALE HORNETS chairman Andy Mazey is confident that when the squad is fully fit, they will be strong contenders in League One.

Five senior players – Rangi Chase, Zach Baker, Paul Brierley, Tom Ashton and Connor Aspey – were missing for the season opener against North Wales Crusaders and the Hornets suffered a narrow 34-36 defeat.

“They were five big players to be without, and that included a nine, a seven and two of our big forwards,” said Mazey.

“That shouldn’t have been an excuse though. We still had enough on the field to do the job, but we were just too poor on the day and found ourselves 18-0 down early on.

“A few of them were due back to face West Wales on Sunday and I’m hoping that in the next couple of weeks we’ll be at full strength.

“Once everyone is back, I am hoping it will kick-start us a bit and we can get a bit of a roll on.


CORNWALL added two more faces to their ranks on the eve of their competitive League One debut with the signings of Andy Kay and Jamie Prisk.

Both players have been training with the club after attending the open player trial at the start of the year and have impressed coach Neil Kelly enough to be offered terms for the club’s inaugural season.

As a teenager hooker Kay was on the books at Leeds Rhinos and Featherstone Rovers before joining the Armed Forces, where he continued his league career representing both the Navy and the Combined Forces team.

29-year-old loose forward Prisk has previous Rugby League experience with Cornish Rebels and the Cornwall County and has also played rugby union for both Redruth and St Ives.

“We are delighted to sign both Jamie and Andy,” said general manager John Beach.

“Jamie is a player who has all the tools in his locker to take League One by storm and from talking to him, he can’t wait to get going.

“Andy brings his previous Rugby League experience to the group and this facet to his game will be so important throughout the campaign as our squad who have played rugby union previously, make the transition into league.”

Both players went straight into Kelly’s squad for Saturday’s trip to North Wales Crusaders.


OLDHAM will get a better idea of the extent of Tommy Brierley’s injury this week, with the winger set for an extended spell on the sidelines.

Brierley suffered a fractured tibia in the closing stages of the opening round defeat to Keighley Cougars and it is feared he may also have injured the knee in the same leg. They will be hoping to find out whether or not this is the case when the 25-year-old visits a specialist this week.

“We’ll know more about Tommy after he has seen specialists at a fracture clinic in Yorkshire on Thursday,” said head coach Stuart Littler.

“But we’re obviously looking at a few weeks.

“They’ll look at him at the fracture clinic and let us know what’s the best way forward.

“To happen on the first day of the league season was cruel luck.”

Brierley was joined on the sidelines by Jason Muranka (concussion) and Sean Slater (knee) as Oldham faced Hunslet on Sunday.


SWINTON LIONS have said they do hope Lewis Else will feature for the club at some stage, despite the half back not yet making a single appearance for them.

The 22-year-old joined the Lions from Widnes Vikings in October but failed to feature in any of the pre-season fixtures, Challenge Cup games, or the opening league encounters against West Wales Raiders and Midlands Hurricanes.

A statement in the club website read: “Due to a change in work patterns, which have affected Lewis’s availability to attend training sessions, Head Coach Allan Coleman has been unable to select him for recent squads.

“It is our intention to retain Lewis’s registration, in the hope that should Lewis’s work patterns become more favourable in the future, then Allan can reconsider him for match-day duties.

“However, for the foreseeable future, it’s unlikely that Lewis will be available for selection.


Scott Turner’s return to NORTH WALES CRUSADERS got off to a great start with a two-try man of the match performance in the 36-34 opening day win at Rochdale Hornets.

The winger, who has had a couple of years away from the game since he last played for the club in 2016, scored twice and set up another for Gav Rodden.

While pleased to get the season off to a good start, the 27-year-old know there is still more to come for this group.

“I can’t complain!” Turner told the club’s Twitter account after the win.

“Jordi (Gibson) put a couple of good kicks up and I got on the end of them. We spoke about that before the game and practised it, so it was like not being away.

“The potential that we’ve got of what we can do for the rest of the year if we start performing, having our discipline a bit better, completing more, and not getting dragged into a bit of an arm wrestle that we don’t need to. It’s positive for the rest of the year.”


WEST WALES RAIDERS coach Ashley Bateman believes his knowledge of the game in the area could make a difference this year.

Previous coaches including Kim Williams and Aaron Wood have moved to the area after joining the club and have had to adapt to the Rugby League scene in Llanelli, which does differ from the heartlands.

But as a local boy, Bateman already knows what the job will entail and he is confident that will help the club develop.

“I know the club and the area and that will help,” said Bateman.

“Rugby is at the heart of the local community, but it’s hard for us down here because union is the big sport.

“But having been around the game in Wales for a while, it gives me an advantage because I know all the boys here, I know how they work, so that definitely helps.”


HUNSLET coach Alan Kilshaw believes that now the season is underway, it will prove to be the best way possible for his team to fix any early mistakes.

After a long pre-season, Kilshaw’s men finally got the league campaign underway with a 28-10 win at London Skolars. And while the coach could take some positives from the victory, he also saw areas for improvement.

“We were pretty poor with the ball in the first half but our defence was good and we only conceded one try, other than an interception score which came from a poor pass,” said Kilshaw ahead of Sunday’s home opener against Oldham.

“In the second half we did enough to win, but we have to get rid of our inconsistencies and do what we practice under pressure. A run of regular games coming up will help, but I was impressed by the players’ desire to work for one another.”


MIDLANDS HURRICANES coach Richard Squires has said the club’s main focus this year will be themselves, and not setting too many goals amongst the squad.

“Consistency let us down last year,” said Squires.

“Instead of setting a target of where we want to be, it’s just about being consistent within ourselves. We’ve got a big squad, so there can be a nice bit of rotation there if needs be.

“We’re looking stronger than we did last year and we feel we can get there or thereabouts against the top teams, but again, we’ve just got to focus on ourselves.”

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