Seven Championship players with a point to prove

Johnny Campbell (Bradford Bulls)

Jonny Campbell. ©RLPhotos
Jonny Campbell. ©RLPhotos

For years, Campbell was regarded as one of the most exciting wingers outside of Super League. His lightning pace, trademark long-range tries and exceptional celebrations made him a feared opponent, one that many believed would eventually make his way to a big club one day.

That never materialised until this off-season when the Bradford Bulls came calling, and Campbell now has the opportunity to really flourish on what is the biggest stage of his career. There’s no doubting his ability, but at the age of 28, this is likely to be his one and only chance to prove himself at one of the country’s big clubs.

Jamie Cording (Featherstone Rovers)Cording Featherstone

When Cording signed for his hometown club ahead of the 2014 season, big things were expected after impressing in his handful of Huddersfield Giants appearances. Although he has become a mainstay in the team, Cording has never hit the heights many anticipated, and that has to be rectified this year. Yes, he’s done a sound job at Rovers, but there is a lot more of where that came from and having recently turned 26, Cording needs to reach new levels within his game to fulfil the potential he showed in Super League years ago.

2016 might be the year he does that and he could be key to their hopes of making the Qualifiers.

Danny Cowling (Batley Bulldogs)

CowlingDanny08_280713Cowling showed plenty of promise following his one-year stint at Halifax in 2014 after leaving Wakefield. The uncompromising centre showcased his physical talents and impressed the Fax faithful during an indifferent campaign. However, Cowling opted to end his time at The Shay, opting for a move to Doncaster ahead of the 2015 season.

As far as career choices go, that probably wasn’t the wisest on Cowling’s behalf as Doncaster suffered relegation to League One after winning just two games all season.

Thankfully for Cowling, he has been given the opportunity to get his career back on track at Batley under John Kear, who rates him highly.

Still only 24, Cowling has a promising future ahead of him, but he needs to have a good year as the Bulldogs look to upset some of the big teams in the league.

Jacob Fairbank (Halifax RLFC)Fairbank Halifax

It’s easy to forget how many games Fairbank played in Super League given his numerous loan spells at several clubs. Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, he never established himself at Huddersfield Giants despite impressing on the occasions he played.

In the end, the second-row has decided to drop down to the Championship to join his hometown club, where he spent time on loan last year before making the move permanent.

This will be his first full year of regular first-team action and Fairbank will be keen on showing that he has what it takes to play Super League again in the future. He put in a man of the match display when Halifax defeated Bradford Bulls at Odsal in the final game of the Qualifiers, now he has to replicate those performances consistently.

Andy Kain (Dewsbury Rams)Andy Kain

Kain has terrorised Championship defences for years and is widely regarded as one of the most influential players in the second-tier over the past decade.

But last year didn’t go to plan. After leaving Featherstone to join Hunslet, Kain struggled in a poor team, resulting in the Hawks getting relegated just one year after earning promotion to the Championship.

For Kain, the opportunity to return to the competition he has made his home came in the shape of Dewsbury, who have a new-look half-back combination following the departure of Anthony Thackeray. Kain has big shoes to fill, and after last year’s disappointment, he needs to deliver to prove he is still at the top of his game now.

                                                                  Willie Tonga (Leigh Centurions)

Willie Tonga dons his new colours at LSV. Credit: Paul McCarthy
Willie Tonga dons his new colours at LSV. Credit: Paul McCarthy

After a bitterly disappointing spell at Catalans in which injuries and playing out of position affected his form, Tonga was granted a release from his contract and promptly caused a stir by joining big-spenders Leigh.

It seems harsh putting Tonga in a list like this given his career achievements; he’s been a part of an NRL and State of Origin winning team and made 12 appearances for Australia.

But as of yet he has failed to prove himself in England, and that is something he will want to put right with Leigh in 2016.





Ryan Verlinden (Workington Town)Ryan Verlinden

Verlinden was one of the most underwhelming signings in the Championship last year after his move to Featherstone ended terribly, eventually seeing the season out at relegated Doncaster.

In Workington, Verlinden has been given another opportunity to recapture the form he found in Australia that put so many clubs on alert in the first place.

He’s a big, robust forward who will become a favourite in Cumbria, and with a year of Championship experience under his belt, he has no excuses not to deliver this year.