Championship Focus: The four tremendous servants earning testimonial games

Betfred Championship clubs will mark the careers of four tremendous servants to the sport at testimonial games this weekend.

Michael Knowles, Danny Brough, Scott Grix and Danny Craven all have matches in their honour to acknowledge their contribution to Rugby League during their playing days.

They kick off with Knowles’ event between his club Dewsbury and Huddersfield Giants at 1pm on Saturday.

Knowles, 34, has been a virtual ever-present at the top end of the second tier during his impressive career.

He started it with Castleford Tigers and was a fringe player in their 2005 and 2007 promotion campaigns, before switching to Gateshead Thunder as they threatened to become a genuine force outside of Super League before hitting financial issues.

In 2010 Knowles switched to Barrow for two years, before moving to Sheffield, where he would play a key role in their 2012 title triumph, winning the man of the match in the Grand Final.

He spent five consistent years with the Eagles before a season at Featherstone in 2017. He then moved onto the Rams, where his tenacious, consistent displays have been a feature of Lee Greenwood’s side.

An occasional goalkicker as well, Knowles has racked up 824 points in his 377-game career.

There are then three testimonials on Sunday, including Bradford Bulls versus Hull FC clash for playmaker Brough.

The talismanic scrum-half was forced into retirement during the close season, leaving him an agonising 17 points short of becoming only the fourth player in the sport’s history to rack up over 4,000 points.

But his total of 3,983 is still worthy of fifth place on that all-time list, and Brough made 526 appearances during his playing career.

Dewsbury, York, Hull FC, Castleford, Huddersfield, Wakefield and the Bulls are on his list of former clubs, alongside a 2005 Challenge Cup win, League Leaders’ Shield triumph with the Giants and captaining Scotland in three different World Cups.

The 38-year-old will be disappointed not to be preparing for one final season with his old mentor John Kear, but there will hopefully be a bumper crowd to provide a fitting send-off for him on Sunday.

Another player who has hung up his boots but will have one final game in his honour is Halifax’s Grix.

The Ireland international announced his retirement in September after finishing his career at his hometown club.

It was Grix’s second spell at Fax, and he also had two stints at both Wakefield and Huddersfield, alongside time at Doncaster, Leigh and Widnes, after having started back in 2003.

He is now on the backroom staff at Halifax under his brother Simon, and Trinity, one of those former clubs, will be the opponents on Sunday as the 37-year-old gets the chance to perhaps run out for one final time.

Grix made a total of 403 professional appearances, crossing for 156 tries and representing Ireland in three World Cups.

His bravery on the field was rarely summed up any more than when he attended a post-match press conference from a bruising encounter against Tonga at Parramatta in 2008 sporting a bloodied head bandage after a courageous display as captain.

Also on Sunday, Widnes Vikings host Batley Bulldogs to mark Danny Craven’s services to the club and the sport.

Craven has spent the vast majority of his career with the Vikings, barring a season each at Halifax and Featherstone and brief loan spells with Workington and Whitehaven.

Versatile and skilful, he has slotted into a variety of positions since making his Widnes debut in 2010, and the upcoming season will be his twelfth in the black and white.

In total the 30-year-old has made 193 appearances and scored 387 points and he will again be a key figure for Simon Finnigan’s team as they look to push up the Championship in 2022.

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