Salford desperate to sign Jackson on permanent deal

Jackson Hatings

Jackson Hastings is a wanted man at Salford Red Devils and their head coach Ian Watson is desperate to keep ahold of the star man.

Hastings was again impressive when Salford thrashed Halifax in the recent Super 8 Qualifiers game, Salford won 62-4.

The Red Devils signed the former Sydney Roosters and Manly Sea Eagles half-back in mid-July on a deal until the end of the season. Manly released the Australian in June and since coming to England he has been on of the most consistent best performers for Salford.

The 22-year-old ended up scoring two of the 12 tries that was scored against Championship side Halifax. A lot is resting on whether Salford can guarantee top flight rugby to whether they can sign Hastings on a permanent deal.

On whether the club can keep hold of the talented player, Watson said: “Time will tell if we can keep Jackson but we have asked the club to give us the best shot we can of doing so. He’s really keen on us securing our Super League future before moving forward.

“There will be other clubs looking at him and want to have a little look at him now whereas they probably didn’t before because of his reputation.

“We did our homework on Jackson, spoke to an awful lot of people over in Australia, and they all gave us really positive feedback on him.

“We were happy to take that punt and it’s to our benefit at the moment. Hopefully we can keep him.”

 

Advertisements

Ryan Hall Still Has a Big Task on His Hands Before Departing Leeds

Ryan Hall

The 2018 season has been a nightmare for the Leeds Rhinos, who for the second time in three seasons find themselves fighting for their life in Super League having failed to secure a place in the Super 8s. 

After winning their eighth Super League Grand Final in 2017, the Rhinos have flopped, just as they did in 2016 after winning the competition. Without Danny McGuire in the halves, Leeds are lacking direction, and now, the West Yorkshire outfit are losing another member of their famous golden generation.

Over the last three years, Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai, Rob Burrow and McGuire have all departed, with Ryan Hall now confirmed to be leaving the English game for a crack at the NRL at the age of 30. Hall has been a regular on the wing for Leeds since his debut in 2007, but the colossus winger will end his spell with his boyhood club in October before linking up with the Sydney Roosters in the NRL.

Over Hall’s time in the first-team at Headingley, he has been superb on the wing, constantly developing his game. The 30-year-old started out as a try-scoring winger, but in recent times, he has become almost like a seventh forward, with his powerful running becoming a trademark, alongside some impressive finishes. His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, with the NRL constantly monitoring him and the Roosters eventually getting Hall’s signature. He has become a world-class talent at Leeds, featuring regularly for England over the years under a number of coaches. His try-scoring record for his country stands at an impressive 36 tries in 38 appearances, with plenty of those coming against Australia, which will have enhanced his reputation down under. We will soon find out if Hall is a success in Australia, but before that, he has plenty to play for with Leeds. The 6ft 2inch winger will not want to leave his boyhood club in the second division, which is looking a possibility, with Leeds left fighting for survival in the Qualifiers. Currently, Leeds are expected to come through, with bet365’s Rugby League betting market pricing the Rhinos at 5/4 to put a difficult season behind them and secure Super League status next season.

Although they will be going up against lower league opposition, who have a much lower budget, things will not be straightforward, with the inexperienced Sinfield leading the Rhinos. Of course, Sinfield as a player was untouchable, he was once the world’s best and will go down in Super League history as the competition’s most successful captain. However, off the field, he is about to find a lot out about himself in the Qualifiers.

Sinfield will be turning to his old teammate Hall to have an impact between now and the end of the season. The winger deserved to go out on a high like Sinfield, McGuire and co, but that isn’t to be, with Leeds not competing for a ninth Super League trophy. However, as exciting as Hall’s new challenge is, it will be devastating for the winger to leave his boyhood club without their Super League status. He will want to go out on a high.

 

Bateman moves to Australia

The latest news to come out of Wigan Warriors is that 24 year old John Bateman is to leave the English club and move to the other side of the world to play for Canberra Raiders.

The England international has signed a two year deal at the National Rugby League side from the beginning of 2019.

Bateman scored 36 tries in 125 games since his 2014 move from Betfred League 1 side Bradford Bulls. The player will return to Wigan to sign a three year deal on the conclusion of his contract in the NRL, which is two year plus an extra year if the Raiders want to take it up.

He said: “It’s great to know I’ll be returning here to Wigan, this has been an incredibly tough decision for me to make as I have enjoyed my time at Wigan so much.

“ultimately, I have always had the desire to play in the NRL at some point in my career, this opportunity is something I didn’t want to turn down.”

In a statement, Warriors confirmed Bateman also has a further year option on his deal with the Raiders.

Hock Signs New Deal at Featherstone

Featherstone Rovers have agreed a new deal with former Great Britain and England player Gareth Hock, he’ll remain at the club until the end of 2019.

Hock has played for both Wigan and Leigh and has so far scored three tries in 14 appearances for Featherstone.

He said on signing his new deal: “I am over the moon to have signed for Featherstone for another year, it is fantastic to be staying with such a great club.

“I have loved every minute of my time here so far, despite it taking me a bit of time to get going due to the injuries I suffered last year. I feel fit now, though, and am improving with every game, the fans have been superb and I cannot wait to rip in for the rest of this season and next. We want to nail our place in the top four and have a good go in the Qualifiers.”

Rovers head coach John Duffy commented: “Gareth has been great and has really bought in to what we are trying to achieve. It has been fantastic to have him around the club and he is getting better every time he steps onto the field. He is a born winner.

“He leads by example in everything he does and is very popular with the players and staff. With a full pre-season under his belt, Gareth will only get better. He is focused on finishing this season on a high and he knows where we want to be.”

Betts Leaves Whilst Cummins Takes Over

Widnes Vikings have parted company with long standing head coach Denis Betts who has been with the club for eight years.

The Vikings have decided that Francis Cummins will take interim charge until a permanent replacment can be found.

On the departure of Betts, James Rule, CEO of Widnes Vikings, said: “Denis can be proud of his contribution to this club over the past eight years. Whilst it is regrettable to lose someone of his experience and commitment, we believe that it is now the right time for a change in leadership. Denis leaves with the absolute best wishes of everyone at the club for the future.

“Naturally, it will take time to identify and recruit a long-term successor for the role. However, we are grateful that Francis Cummins will be stepping up as our Head Coach, on an interim basis. Francis has proven himself to be a talented, dedicated and knowledgeable coach, and has earned the respect of staff and teammates from across the club for his contribution since joining Widnes Vikings in September. His appointment brings stability to the team at an important stage of the season and allows us to plan for 2019, whilst offering him the chance to make his own mark on the team. We are thankful to our Stronghold Members, supporters and partners for their support at this time.”

Denis Betts commented on leaving the club: “I have been grateful to have had the opportunity to lead Widnes Vikings, as Head Coach, for eight years. It is with sadness that I leave the club, but I feel proud of what has been achieved during my tenure, and of the contributions of our players and back-office staff.

“I would like to thank everyone who I have worked alongside during my tenure at the club, and all who have supported the Vikings both on and off the field. The club has many reasons to be positive for the future, not least the ongoing emergence of its young talent, and I give my best wishes to those who continue to lead the team in the future.  I hope that the club continues to progress in the seasons ahead.

“I am looking forward to my next chapter in the game and I am grateful for the considerable experience that I have gained with Widnes Vikings.”

On becoming interim head coach Francis Cummins, added: “It is never easy to take on a role in circumstances like these, but I am ready to step up and support the team at this time. On behalf of myself, and all of the coaching, playing and back-office staff, I would like to thank Denis and wish him every success in the future.

“In stepping up as Interim Head Coach, I will be looking to support our players to fulfil their potential, to express themselves on the field, and to grow in confidence. The backing of our Members and supporters is absolutely vital to achieving this. We have a number of tough away fixtures coming up, before our next home game in July, so this collective unity and support will be key. I am hoping that everyone can rally around the team, to support them to have a strong finish to the season.”

Kelly looking forward to Summer Bash

Dewsbury Rams head coach Neil Kelly was delighted with his team’s performance and result against Halifax.

The game ended 22-22 in what was an exciting game in which the Rams dominated for long parts – which meant a happy day for any Rams backers who used the bet365 bonus code.

On the game against Halifax, Kelly said: “I think just about everyone in the game would forgive me when I say, woopee.

“I thought we were good value for the point, Halifax fought tooth and nail and had their time in ascendancy. I thought we showed the character which has been missing in recent weeks in the last 15 minutes of the game, when we had to drag ourselves through the fixture by our boot straps.

“I have to say that I thought our middle’s played superbly well, especially playing the ball quickly, I thought Shannon Wakeman’s input into the game was superb.

“When your 14-0 up and you’ve lost your previous eight or nine games obviously it’s going to be a bit worrying about the confidence. Then when your opponents come back and take a slender lead with about 15 minutes to go, then you worry about your team’s ability to drag yourself back into the game.

“That is why I am really impressed and pleased with the character and spirit we showed in that last 15 minutes, clawing our way back into a game that maybe in previous weeks we would have put a white flag up and be beaten by the inevitable. What this shows is that we can fight against the inevitable and it doesn’t have to be the inevitable.

“It is brilliant that we have managed to stop the run of defeats, but now we have laid a platform or a bench mark of what the minimum has to be for us here on in. This has to be the minimum of performances and character going forward. If we now get used to playing at that pace and at that level then we’ll have more good times than bad times.”

On Paul Sykes’s performance and crucial kick to put the scores level, Kelly commented: “I thought he led the side really well, especially for someone who isn’t 100% fit, he has been out with a hamstring injury. If anyone out there who’s had a hamstring injury will know it plays with your mind as well as the body. His kicking may need to improve but I thought character wise and defensively wise he led the side back through that difficult period in the game.

“Whilst they were preparing for it I was thinking did we come here for a draw or a win and for a brief second I thought let’s go for broke and go for the win, because they were shot as well. Certainly when the ball left Sykes’s foot I thought we should have tapped it, but it managed to crawl across the bar.”

The Rams face local rivals Batley Bulldogs at the Summer Bash in Blackpool next weekend, and Kelly says that the team should take great confidence from the draw against Halifax into next week.

He said: “We should have a lot more confidence going into the Summer Bash next week than what we did going into this game against Halifax.

“We can look at those games in a different light, yor not going into them with a bit of a monkey on your back with all the previous defeats.

“I’m looking forward to it, they’ve had the Indian sign on us over the last few times we have met. However when we played at Batley earlier on in the season I think we created a situation where it was easier to win than lose, but we managed to lose. That’s indicative of how we have been over this period, but again you have to do the right thing, 85% completion rate in the first half is now the bench mark going forward.”

Magic Weekend 2018 preview: Who plays who?

“Warrington Vs. Wigan Scrap” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by roblawton

St James’ Park in Newcastle hosts rugby league’s Magic Weekend for the fourth consecutive year on the weekend of 19-20 May.

All 12 teams in the Super League will play a match on Tyneside over the two days which opens with a Championship clash between Canadian club Toronto Wolfpack and French side Toulouse Olympique.

The Magic Weekend has produced already produced thrills, spills and drama aplenty in its 11-year history, so what will happen at the twelfth edition of this event designed to promote rugby league to a wider audience? Here’s a brief overview of the six Super League encounters on show.

Widnes Vikings vs. St Helens

League leaders St Helens have Australian back Ben Berba in blistering form with his tries and assists for centre Mark Percival a key factor in their strong start to the season. Kicker Danny Richardson has also been prolific with his boot.

When they met Magic Weekend opposition Widnes away on Easter Monday, Saints ran in six tries during a comprehensive 28-6 victory. Vikings had injuries to contend with then, but that’s impacted their campaign.

St Helens, meanwhile, are already odds-on favourites in rugby league betting on who will finish the regular Super League season top and 7/4 to win the Grand Final.

Wigan Warriors vs. Warrington Wolves

Two of the top four and local rivals meet in what could be the game of Magic Weekend 2018. Wigan and Warrington have to contend with kicking off at the same time as the FA Cup final at Wembley if you’re thinking of watching on TV.

There are lots of subplots surrounding this derby encounter, including former Warriors wing Josh Charnley back in Super League with bitter rivals Wolves after a finding crossing codes to rugby union with Sale Sharks a difficult transition. Wigan and Warrington met at the Magic Weekend last year and honours were even thanks to Joe Burgess’ hat-trick.

Wolves ran out 16-10 home winners over Warriors back in February and this is a repeat of the 2016 Grand Final which Wigan won 12-6. They are 3/1 to go all the way again, with Warrington available at twice that price.

Castleford Tigers vs. Leeds Rhinos

Another top six encounter rounding off Saturday, 19 May is a White Rose battle between the Tigers and Rhinos. Just a single point in favour of Castleford separated these Yorkshire rivals at Elland Road back in March.

Last year’s Super League man of steel Luke Gale kicked four goals and a drop goal back then. These proved decisive despite braces from Leeds duo Kallum Watkins and Ash Handley.

Salford Red Devils vs. Catalans Dragons

The Red Devils can move further clear of the bottom four when they clash with struggling Catalans in the lunchtime kick-off of Sunday, 20 May.

Wing Jake Bibby and the kicking of Robert Lui will be key for Salford and was over Easter when they ran out 32-16 winners over Dragons.

Wakefield Trinity vs. Huddersfield Giants

The second Yorkshire derby of the Magic Weekend gives Wakefield the opportunity to trounce lowly Huddersfield again, having done so 22-4 in March. Ben Jones-Bishop bagged a brace in that match and is Trinity’s main try threat.

The Giants have looked anything but their name in Super League this season but have Scottish veteran Danny Brough still kicking points. No team has lost more matches than Huddersfield, however.

Hull KR vs. Hull FC

Super League wouldn’t be the same without Hull’s two team doing battle in derbies. KR’s promotion back to the top-flight for this season means there’s a Magic Weekend matchup to look forward to.

Although KR centre Thomas Minns hit a hat-trick in the first Hull derby of the campaign, FC ran out 30-22 winners thanks to two tries from Fetuli Talanoa and the kicking of Marc Sneyd.

Thorman can turn Giants around

HUDDERSFIELD Giants Head Coach Chris Thorman believes he has learnt a lot whilst being interim boss.

Thorman took over first team duties after the Giants sacked Rick Stone. Thorman says the role is different to just being an assistant.

He also insists that he can help change the club’s fortunes around, saying: “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s very different being Head Coach compared to an Assistant, you can imprint your own philosophies on the team, not that I’ve had a great deal of time to do it because of the Easter period.

“I’ve had some acknowledgement from the group and I just think that if we can get some bodies back and stay healthy then we can go places and I honestly believe that.

“We’ve got a lot of good players missing but at the same time I’m aware of the situation and it’s really important that performances pick up.

“We did against Leeds and just dropped off against Catalans in the last 25 minutes but we’re going to stay positive and will keep fighting our way through it, that’s all we can do.”

Worrincy speaks about Dewsbury’s brilliant start

Dewsbury Rams winger Rob Worrincy is confident that the team can get a result against the Swinton Lions on Sunday and contiue their good start to the Betfred Championship season.

The 33 year old has had a positive start to the campaign, scoring three tries so far for Dewsbury, the latest being a spectacular solo run from his own try line. That came in the club’s latest victory which was against the Rochdale Hornets last Monday evening.

On the upcoming game against Swinton, Worrincy said: “We’ve been looking at the things we did wrong from Monday night in training and we will be looking to put those things right on Sunday against Swinton.

“It’s really important that we continue this good start because that’s what it has been – but that’s all it’s been.

“We have to make sure we capitalise on this now and go into Sunday’s game with a real hunger to win the fixture.

“You have to win these sorts of games, especially against the teams that you think might be around you come the end of the season.

“I know that if we put in a performance and we are on our game we can give any team in this league a run for their money.”

The Rams’ good start comes 12 months after their winless start to open the 2017 campaign.

“It’s a better start than what we made last year,” said Worrincy.

“Neil has made the point to us that we want to be looking up the table and not down it. It’s really nice to not worry about what other teams are doing and just concentrate on ourselves.

“It was good to go to Rochdale on Monday and get the win, especially after the disappointment of losing to London.

“When looking back on it, we had chances to win it but just didn’t take them.

“On Monday night, we put that right. It was important that we went there and put a good performance in for the full 80 minutes,

“We wanted to get back out there and put some wrongs right after the game against London.

“The game was moved, but mind if it was a Monday, Sunday, Wednesday or Friday, or whenever, we just want to play.

“The tries we scored on the night were overall good but I thought it was the defence we put up which got us the victory.

“The guys in the middle did a really good job on keeping them out and defending with a real tough attitude.

“That gives the players like me on the fringes the platform to go and do our stuff at the right end of the field, so it is a real team effort all the way through.

“And credit has to go to the forwards for the kind of carries they carried out on the night.

“We have worked hard on the defensive side of our game during in the off season and now it’s coming to fruition, which is great.

“Once you get the defence right, then we know we have players who then can go and hurt the opposition.

“The only negative from that game was that we didn’t manage to nil them, however I really think that will come in time.

“Zeroing someone can be more rewarding than scoring 38 points, and I think we aren’t too far off from doing that this season, hopefully it’ll come sooner rather than later.”

Worrincy was also happy to reflect on his length-of-the-field effort on the stroke of half-time that had the travelling Rams fans on their feet.

“The guys in the middle were fronting up, so I hadn’t really made a tackle at all up to that point in the game.

“So I just concentrated on giving the forwards a helping hand with carrying the ball as far and as fast I could up the field.

“For that score, I just saw this open space and went for it, thankfully I got to the line before I was tackled but when you get an open space like that you just have to open up your legs and go for it, and hope that you can make it to the other end of the pitch.

“When the ball went to ground, I saw Paul Sykes edging towards it and then thought I’m going to get in a position where I can make a difference.

“The move worked and I was happy to score the try.”

Jukes resigns as head coach of Leigh

Leigh Centurions head coach Neil Jukes has resigned from his position at the club, this comes after talks with owner Derek Beaumont.

The club have announced that Kieron Purtill will take over as caretaker coach with Paul Anderson acting as his assistant while the club appoints a new head coach.

Jukes has a long association with Leigh, having played, coached and now led the club in his various positions at the club. He made his first team debut for the centurions in 1995 having come through the club’s academy system. After his playing career was cut short due to injury, he turned to a life in coaching and went back to Leigh in 2009.

He learnt his trade coaching at the reserve levels before becoming more involved at first team level, and eventually became head coach in 2016, leading the club back to Super League in his first season in charge.

On his departure from the club Jukes said: “Since returning to Leigh I’ve been part of this Club for nearly ten years and I believe I’ve served it with distinction as assistant coach and head coach.

“We’ve had some unbelievably great times that I will never forget and also some bad times, far worse than we are experiencing at the moment. What is important is to get the Club and the playing group to where it needs to be and there comes a time when everyone’s lifespan on the shelf comes to an end.

“I’m a genuine local guy and no one will be more pleased than me if we achieve our Super League goal this year. I’d like to thank all the loyal fans for their support in good times and tough times and to those fans I’d say please continue to support the Club and support the finance that Derek puts into the club.

“People will only realise how important Derek is to the club when he stops putting in his own money. I’ve been involved at the club before he came and after he came and the difference is like chalk and cheese.”

Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont commented: “It’s a sad day for me and, as I put in my programme notes a couple of weeks ago, Neil has the best interests of the club at heart. When he thought he was the man who could no longer deliver he would let me know before I got in the position to have to sack him.

“We had a really interesting two hour conversation that I found very emotional, seeing a guy I know cares so deeply about this Club so much that he wants to leave the position open to a guy he believes will be better than him to take the Club forward.

“Neil has been an outstanding ambassador during my time at the Club and has served Leigh Centurions with distinction, remaining extremely professional at all times.

“My greatest memory of being involved in Rugby League was gaining promotion to Super League and for that I’ll be eternally grateful to Neil.

“I’ve had many a great memory with Neil, probably the highest being when we visited Australia earlier this year. Neil has been more than an employee and I class him as a personal friend and I’m sure he will continue to be that long after not only his involvement in Rugby League ends but also mine.

“I must admit that after hearing our fans boo and applaud the opposition I too considered my position at the Club as I do not welcome people booing our players. I fail to see how that will get them to perform for the shirt. I had a very good meeting with the players this morning and they are up for the fight.

“I would ask those supporters who are also up for backing the Club to come and support us in our next home against Featherstone Rovers this coming Sunday, and those that want to boo us please stay at home.

“I would rather take this fight on with one thousand people who back us than people who just turn up to support us in the good times.

“I firmly believe that Leigh Centurions has the ability to have a strong future in Super League and be competitive with a good youth structure behind us.

“As long as I believe that I will continue to invest my time and money to achieve that goal. We have got off to a bad start but it is how we finish and the fight is not over.”