Thunder strike four full-time deals

Newcastle Thunder have confirmed four new full-time signings for the 2022 Betfred Championship season as the club prepares to switch from a part-time to a full-time operation.

Second rower Brad Day, centre Thomas Minns, fullback Craig Mullen and home-grown Academy product Jake Anderson were the players unveiled to fans who attended a special club event on Thursday evening.

Day joins from Featherestone Rovers, who he joined ahead of the 2019 season from Batley Bulldogs, featuring in 29 matches in his first season and scoring 13 tries.

Starting his career with Castleford Tigers, he has featured in over 100 Betfred Championship games with the Bulldogs and Rovers, scoring 42 tries since 2015.

The former England Youth international has been signed to bring added physicality to the Thunder pack for the coming season.

“Brad brings strike on an edge, is competitive in what he does and will add some real threat. He’s a player that can really excite fans and gives us some good experience and some skill,” said Thunder coach Eamon O’Carroll.

“He has been one of the best in the Championship over the last couple of years and we have done really well to get him against some strong Super League interest.”

Also making the switch from the Millennium Stadium is centre Minns (above), who is a product of the Leeds Rhinos Academy and made his senior debut for the Headingly club at the age of 19 in a 42 -24 win over Castleford in 2013.

Making a total of 51 career appearances in the top division with the Rhinos, London Broncos and Hull KR, Minns has played over 100 professional games.

Off the field, Minns is a strong advocate for mental health and is a motivational speaker on the subject through his company, Minns Mind.

“Tom brings a different dynamic and I’m really looking forward to working with him,” said O’Carroll.

“He is a resilient character and is really passionate about coming here and making this club his own.

“He is really good defensively and also has some strike in him and is going to add to us as one of the on-field leaders and we’re going to be open to some of the ideas that he is going to bring to us.

Craig Mullen is a second new face to be added from a Betfred Super League club following the signing of Alex Foster, with the 23-year-old moving from Leigh Centurions.

A product of the Wigan Warriors Academy, Mullen signed for the club aged 14 and made his Super League debut for the Cherry and Whites at Wakefield in May 2018.

Joining the Centurions ahead of their late promotion to the top-flight last December, he made 12 appearances in 2021, featuring at fullback, centre, wing, halfback and scrum-half.

His goal-kicking played a crucial role in Leigh securing their first win of the season against Salford Red Devils, with 16 points from his boot propelling the side to a 32-22 win.

He has experience of both the Betfred Championship and League 1 through loan spells with London Skolars, Swinton Lions and Leigh.

“Craig is a versatile player and that is something that has probably been unfortunate for him in that whatever position you put him in, he does a really good job,” added O’Carroll.

“He is coming here as our number one fullback and that excites both him and me. He is a smart player; he organises the defensive line and has a high level of skill, which is going to complement our edges.

Completing the quartet of new signings, Jake Anderson becomes the latest local talent to graduate from Academy to first team, after the 18-year-old impressed in four first-team outings during 2021 against Featherstone Rovers, York City Knights, Dewsbury Rams and Bradford Bulls, showing up well against vastly more experienced players.

A product of community club Gateshead Storm, he has been a regular feature of England youth setups, will now be part of the club’s full-time roster.

Jake was fantastic and had he not got injured, he would have played more games last season as well,” said O’Carroll.

“He is really passionate about being a Super League player for Thunder and I am really excited to work with him.

“He’s a level-headed kid who comes from a great family. He knows he has a lot of work to do, but I’ve probably got a little bit of a soft spot for him, as a fellow front rower so I’m happy I am going to be part of a journey that is no doubt going to be successful.”

The quartet join Alex Foster and Ukuma Ta’ai as the signings so far confirmed for the 2022 Betfred Championship season, with more signings and re-signings due to be confirmed in the coming weeks.