Mixed news over new recruits as Hull KR prepare to face Catalans

HULL KR coach Tony Smith is looking forward to unleashing Ryan Hall on Catalans Dragons in Saturday’s Super League opener.

But Hall’s fellow new arrival Brad Takairangi is a doubt after picking up a knock during training.

The versatile recruit from Parramatta played in the halves in the warm-up game against Castleford, but can also operate at centre of secondrow.

“We’re keeping close tabs on Brad,” said Smith of the former Sydney Roosters and Gold Coast Titans man.

“He’s an exciting signing, and to be without him would clearly be a blow. We’d love him to play, but if he can’t, he can’t.”

Winger Hall, back in England after a two-year stint with Sydney Roosters, also played against Castleford.

Smith coached the 33-year-old England ace at Leeds, where he won six Grand Finals and two Challenge Cups, and noted: “Ryan was a bit skinnier back then.

“He’s bulked up a bit over the years, and also worked hard to improve his endurance, and he’s a great addition for us.

“Ryan is a pleasure to coach, a great professional who is always trying to improve. He’s a calm personality too. I think he will be really good for us.”

Hall’s playing time Down Under was limited by knee problems, but Catalans star Sam Tomkins reckons he will flourish back in Super League.

“It didn’t work out in the NRL – he was halted by a pretty bad injury – but he has been a top winger for more than a decade,” he said.

“He’s a massive bloke and fast with it, and much more than just a finisher. Forget the Roosters, I think we will see the Ryan Hall we know from his Leeds days.”

Catalans coach Steve McNamara will hand a debut to Kiwi Dean Whare, the centre signed from Penrith.

“Our time training as a group has been limited because of Covid protocols, but Dean is a seasoned professional and did a lot of pre-season work with Penrith before he joined up with us,” he said.

The French side are missing forwards Michael McIlorum and Joel Tomkins through suspensions carried over from last season.