Whitehaven stalwart sets Championship goal for testimonial season

PROUD skipper James Newton says leading Whitehaven back to the Championship play-offs would be the perfect accompaniment to the award of a testimonial.

The 32-year-old from Millom, 30 miles down the coast, is in his eleventh season at the West Cumbrian club, where he first signed in 2013 after leaving Hull FC’s development set-up.

Newton has topped 200 appearances for Whitehaven, but that service has been broken by a year at neighbours Workington in 2018, hence his three rather than twelve-month testimonial, which will start in August.

Planning for a series of events, including a golf day, boxing night, ladies’ evening and post-season match, has begun, with the testimonial also being used to raise funds for St Mary’s Hospice on the Furness Peninsula.

“I’m honoured to have been awarded the testimonial, and proud to be captain of Whitehaven,” said Newton, who has returned from a career-threatening anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained in 2022.

“While I had the year at Workington, which I don’t regret because it widened my experience, this is my club, part of the local community and where my family have strong links. That means a lot to me.”

Newton was a League One title and promotion winner with Whitehaven in 2019, and part of the side who made the Championship play-offs two years later.

The last two seasons have been harder going, with finishes of tenth and twelfth against a background of financial issues.

But Newton, who works in the nuclear industry at Sellafield and was part of the Whitehaven squad who flew to France for Saturday’s clash with Toulouse, is optimistic a corner has been turned.

“I think things are more table now, and while we have had a mixed start to the season, I believe that on our day, we can challenge anyone in this division.

“This Championship is strong, and the first priority is staying in it, but if we can be in mid-table with a couple of months left, then why shouldn’t we push for a play-off place?”

First published in League Express newspaper, Issue 3,427 (April 22, 2024)

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