Widnes duo make Super League step up with Warrington

Betfred Super League side Warrington Wolves have snatched two players from Championship club Widnes Vikings as centre Anthony Gelling and Keanan Brand swap second division for first division.

Centre Gelling has signed a two year deal with the Wolves whilst teammate Brand has committed himself to a three year deal at the club.

Gelling who is 28 years old made over a 100 appearances in Super League for the Wigan Warriors between 2012-17 before moving back to the place of his birth New Zealand.

On signing for the club Gelling said: “I’ve always liked playing here; even when I was at Wigan, this was one of my favourite stadiums to come to. To now call this my home ground and to play here every week will be awesome.

“To link up with some of my old Wigan buddies in Jack Hughes and Charners (Josh Charnley) too was one of the key factors in signing here.”

Meanwhile 20 year old Brand started his career at Wigan St Patricks before moving on to the Widnes scholarship programme as a teenager. He made his Super League debut in 2018 and has now moved to the home of Warrington.

On both players joining the club head coach Steve Price said: “Both players will give us depth to our squad. Anthony comes on good recommendations from people that I trust.

“He is a big, athletic, strong centre, who carries the ball well and has a sound knowledge of the game. He is a big personality and it will be great to have him around the team.

“Keanan is a young player with a lot of potential. He is a centre that is also capable of playing on the wing and has the ability to beat people with ball in hand but is also strong in defence. He has a bright future ahead of him and I am looking forward to working with him and developing his game.”

 

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Morris signs on for a further two years with Dewsbury Rams

Dewsbury Rams recently announced the re-signing of Frazer Morris on a two year deal, the prop has committed his future to the club until the end of the 2021 campaign.

Morris arrived at the Rams halfway through last season after he left rivals Halifax to come to Dewsbury.

On signing his new two year deal at the club the 23 year old said: “I’m really excited to have signed with the Rams and develop myself as a player and hopefully make a big impact from the start of the season.

“It’s a chance for me to be a key player for the club and hopefully over these two years I can develop into a better player and individual.”

Morris insisted that he settled into the Tetley’s Stadium side quickly and felt at home right away in the club.

On coming into the club last year, Morris commented: “I settled in quite fast because both players and staff were very welcoming and so were the fans from the get go. I’ve really enjoyed my time at the Rams especially for giving me the chance to prove myself.

“It’s important to develop a bond between the fans and players because you want to be thankful for their support no matter the result.”

Morris believes he can push on this season and make the position in the team his own, he says he wants to push the boundaries and develop as a player.

He said: “My aim at the club is to keep pushing boundaries and developing myself as a player.

“As a team we want to be able to give ourselves a better chance of improving and hopefully finishing in a much better position than we did last season.”

 

Ward staying put in the south despite relegation

London Broncos have announced that head coach Danny Ward will be staying at the recently relegated club and has signed a new two year deal at the Broncos.

Having being a Broncos stalwart for many years he joined the club back in 2008 as a player and eventually became the club’s head coach. He performed miracles and got the Londoners promoted to Super League when they defeated Canadian side Toronto Wolfpack in the Million Pound fixture in 2018. He then went on to guide his side through a gruiling Super League campaign and took it to the final day for them only to fall short as they were relegated with a defeat to Wakefield Trinity.

Ward who has been praised by all corners of the Rugby League community has been rewarded with a two year contract.

On signing the new contract Ward said: “I am very happy to extend my contract with Broncos and a big thanks to the gaffer, David Hughes, for putting faith in me again. London is our home and I am truly privileged to coach RL in the greatest city in the world. What a job!

“It has been an incredible journey so far, suffering incredible highs and lows along the way, with a fantastic bunch of players and performance staff and I am really looking forward to next season and the challenges that come our way.”

Broncos chairman Hughes said: “Danny is almost a Londoner now and has done incredible things with the squad here in the capital.

“You can tell by the way the boys play that they have a huge respect for him and he has instilled a togetherness here that is second to none.

“I am delighted that he has decided to stay here for another two years and I have every confidence that he and his backroom team will be working harder than ever to get us back to Super League as soon as possible.”

 

Catalan Chairman Blasts Players

Bernard Guasch

Catalan Dragons chairman Bernard Guasch has called out some of his players on their poor attitude this season.

The French side have had a poor campaign compared to last year and although it was always going to be hard to replicate it hasn’t been good enough according to the man at the top.

In an interview with Perpignan newspaper L’Independant, Guasch said that some of the players out of contrace have had poor attitudes and that he has had six or seven problems with players this season.

He said: “We’ve had six or seven problems with players who do not accept being told that they will not be with us next season”.

Among the so called trouble causes is Franch international player Tony Gigot who has rejected a new contract at the club and Guasch is adamant that that offer is now off of the table.

He commented: “We gave him all the cards this season. I am very affected by his attitude, Tony Gigot does not listen to the right people, at some point you have to be serious and I am.”

On another note Guasch expressed his confidence in head coach Steve McNamara and says that a new deal will be on the way to him in the coming days and weeks.

He said: “We will extend his contract in the coming weeks of one or two years more, I cannot overstate what Steve McNamara brought to the club, saving us (from relegation) in the Million Pound Game in 2017, winning the Cup in 2018 and this year we were third in June.

“I’m not one of those people who say, ‘When we play a good game, the players are very good and when we lose and we’re bad, the coach is bad, we will learn from the good lessons to make 2020 a big year.”

Agar Wants Leeds Job Full Time

Richard Agard.jpeg

Richard Agar is poised to become the next permanent head coach of Leeds Rhinos, having taken the job on as interim-head coach, Agar has now confirmed that talks are in advanced stages for him to take over on a more permanent basis.

Having worked at both Hull FC and Wakefield before as coach Agar has plenty of experience to know what it takes to get to the top.

Whilst in caretaker charge of the side he was tasked with saving the club from what seemed nailed on relegation from the Super League. However the former player now turned coach has managed to steer the club away from the dreaded drop zone.

He has now said that he would like the job on a full time basis and that talks with the Leeds Rhinos board are in advanced stages.

He told Sky Sports: “I sat down with Gary (Hetherington) on Monday night and subsequently had a couple of meetings with Kevin on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Obviously we’ve a game tomorrow (Friday) so I can’t say anything has been finalised but just that the talks have been really positive. I’ve felt a lot of support from within the club, I’ve felt quite comfortable and relaxed in the job and I think I’ve seen some progress from the guys.”

Will St Helens End Playoff Struggles?

St Helens 2

It has been five years since St Helens reached the summit of rugby league in England, last claiming the Super League crown in the 2014 campaign.

The club have fallen at the semi-final stage for the last four seasons on the bounce, including their failure last term when they were beaten by Warrington Wolves.

Justin Holbrook has endured the same issues as his predecessor Keiron Cunningham had in the playoffs, failing to galvanise his team for the pressure of elimination matches.

However, the Saints are on the charge once more and have been outstanding in the 2019 campaign forging their way back through to the semi-finals.

Holbrook has one final chance to win the Super League to end his three-year tenure with the ultimate prize. The Aussie will be leaving his post at the end of the current term to join the Gold Coast Titans in the NRL.

St Helens have been dominant over the course of the season, winning an incredible 24 out of their 27 matches at the time of writing. Surprisingly, two of their defeats have come at the hands of bottom side London Broncos on the road.

They’ve already secured the League Leaders’ Shield, but have to capitalise on their form to win the ultimate title, with the Saints backed in the latest rugby league betting odds as odds-on 8/11 favourites for the crown. Holbrook and his men are in an eerily similar situation to last season when they were a free-scoring dominant outfit in the regular season, winning 26 of their 30 games.

However, Warrington were playoff ready and two tries from Tom Lineham in the second half took the game away from the Saints on home soil. It was a familiar taste of failure for St Helens, losing in the semi-finals for the fourth year in a row – although not quite as traumatising as their stretch of being defeated five-straight times in the Grand Final between 2007 and 2011.

St Helens have been imperious at both ends of the field in their bid to end their title drought. They lead the league in points scored and fewest allowed, producing a staggering +463 point differential, which highlights their potency and stoic nature of their play this term. Four of their players, Tommy Makinson, Reagan Grace, Kevin Naiqama and Jonny Lomax, are all in the top 10 for the most tries scored this season, while Lomax, Lachlan Coote and Theo Fages are among the leaders in assists.

The statistics make pleasant reading for Holbrook and Saints’ supporters, although they mean very little in a one-off match. Defensive resilience is a vital part of any championship winning side and that could be the driving force behind a surge for the crown. Even though St Helens were off the boil in the attacking third, they still allowed Warrington to score 18 points in their defeat last year.

Wigan showed the way in their triumph, conceding only four points in their two playoff matches. The Warriors held Castleford scoreless before allowing a try against the Wolves on their way to the title. St Helens have all the tools required to win the Super League Grand Final, but they need to prove their mettle to get over the line to reap the rewards.

Feki signs for Cas as of 2020

Cas Tigers

Castleford Tigers have signed winger Sosaia Feki on a three year deal from Cronulla Sharks, he will join the Tigers from 2020 onwards.

Although the 28 year old was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and played for the New Zealand Warriros junior sides and risen through the ranks there, he has played twice for Tonga.

Feki won the 2016 NRL Grand Final, and says he is now ready for a new challenge after being at the sharks for seven seasons. He said on the move to the Super League outfit: “I’ve been at Cronulla for seven years now, I’ve been comfortable here but this is a new chapter in our lives and my partner and I are really excited to come across to Castleford and to Super League.

“It’s going to be a new challenge but Cronulla play an attacking style of rugby as well so hopefully I can bring that over there. I’ve played with Junior Moors at the Sharks and I know Jesse Sene-Lefao already as well. I’ve been messaging him and he’s been tipping me up on the club and what it’s like.

“As a player, I just try to do my job for the team and finish any opportunities that come my way. I’ve played a lot of my games with the Sharks on the left but I’m also really comfortable on the right and I played on that side at the weekend.

“I’m not bothered where the coaches want me to play; wherever they put me I’ll come across and do my best for the club.”

On his new signing Castleford head coach Daryl Powell commented: “Sosaia is a player who has been performing at the top level for a number of years in the NRL,” he said.

“He was a part of the Cronulla team that won the title in Australia which means that our last two recruits from overseas know what it takes to win a championship.

“He is big, strong and aggressive with the ball and an experienced defender. Our back line for next season has a real look of ability about it with strong competition for places in all positions and Sosaia adds hugely to our quality.”

Burrow confident on Broadbent’s ability

Leeds Rhinos academy product Jack Broadbent has moved to Betfred Championship side Batley Bulldogs on loan for a month. Rhinos academy coach Rob Burrow insists that Broadbent has what it takes to play in England’s second tier.

Broadbent who has already had a taste of Championship rugby whilst being on dual registration with Featherstone Rovers, played for Batley Boys as a youngster and also played for Dewsbury Moor. Now though the 17 year old will be coming up against some of the toughest players in the Championship.

On Broadbent, Burrow’s said:  “He has probably been our best performer this season; he has been consistently good for us. I think Jack Broadbent is someone who can handle it in the Championship, this is probably a good time for him to go and play somewhere else and I certainly think he is ready for it.

“His attitude is first-class and it will be good to see where he’s at, it will be good for him to test himself against Championship teams, hopefully regularly over the next four weeks.”

Ward on his way back

Leeds Rhinos Stevie Ward is now back in full time training and is hoping to make his Super League return in the next few weeks.

The 25 year old has been out of action since round three after sustaining a knee injury which he has since had surgery on back in February against St Helens. He is hoping to be back for the Rhinos game against Castleford Tigers on July 5th, however he could be available for the game against the Catalan Dragons five days earlier.

On returning from injury he said: “I am just putting everything into practice that I can do. I have worked really hard on my ‘rehab’ and the stuff around it and I can’t wait to get back on the field and share a bit of the journey with the boys.

“It is a weird one; through different times of the injury sometimes it felt like it was progressing and other times it didn’t. Now I am back running and doing contact so I am back in the main bits of it now and it’s not long until I am back out there.

“My knee has reacted well over the last few weeks and it’ll be nice to get out there, I still haven’t played in the full [rebuilt] stadium yet, so I am looking forward to that when I get the chance.”

Workington stadium hits snag

Workington Town have hit a bump in the road for their new stadium plans as the local council has had a change in leadership. This may effect the bid to have no 2021 World Cup games to be played in Cumbria.

With Labour losing the local elections, the proposed 8,000 seater capacity stadium which would be shared by both the rugby club and football team has now been put into doubt.

Supporters recently set up an online petition in support of the development, World Cup chief Jon Dutton has insisted that if the stadium doesn’t go ahead, then Cumbria will not host games in the tournament.

On the situation Dutton said: “We are aware of the leadership changes at the council and the potential impact this may have on the stadium project. Since the local elections we have, and will continue to have, dialogue with the council.

“We completed an open bidding process in 2018 and the impressive Allerdale bid included the new stadium. Our decision to host games in Allerdale was conditional upon the stadium being built as there are no viable alternatives available locally. As confirmed previously, we have a contingency stadium should the new facility not be developed in the agreed timeframe. This stadium is not in Allerdale or West Cumbria, we remain committed to working with the partners in Allerdale.”