Kelly Fearful Of Future For Rugby League

DEWSBURY Rams head coach Neil Kelly insists that a number of Betfred Championship clubs should be worried over the direction the RFL are moving and the depature of Nigel Wood from the organisation.

It has been suggested that a number of Super League sides want to take control over TV revenue and other decisions that will affect the way in which the game is run. Kelly believes that if this happens it could mean that the lower divisions of rugby league could be badly affected, and also says that it could lead to less money falling down the league structure.#

On the changes at the top of the sport Kelly told The Press: “Judging by some of the reports, a lot of people in our division and the division below are a little bit concerned. There is the concern about what direction the RFL are going to go in now that Nigel Wood isn’t there.

“Everybody at this level should be a little bit worried, there have been some press reports saying that there have been moves to try and take the finance away from the Championship. I think that would be detrimental, not only to our division, but to the game as a whole.

“The game needs a thriving level of competition below Super League, so it is worrying what direction the game is going to take.

“When I was at Dewsbury before, we lived through one period that was like the current situation, the game fought hard to stay together against some forces within that tried to break away.

“Now it seems that we are back to where we were then, hopefully that isn’t the case and we can look at ways to take the whole game forward. I’m as concerned as anybody else, as the noises coming out suggest we are going to be where we were 10 to 15 years ago.

“I think, overall, that Nigel Wood has done a good job, on the face of it he has been an advocate for this division.

“I have seen some of the names that people are pushing, for example Wigan, who seem to be at the front of the breakaway situation, promoting Phil Clarke and players who have played at Wigan.

“I can see there being a bit of a divide at Super League level with the clubs that are trying to take the money from us, and the ones who have developed the clubs to such an extent that they are independent, free-standing clubs that can survive without the extra money.

“I think that Kevin Sinfield has been touted for the position but I think it needs to be a neutral person who goes in there, rather than a significant player. It is better to take away the parochial side of the game and really look at getting an independent person in, who obviously has the capabilities but without close ties to any club.”

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Kear Happy With Bulls Appraoch

BRADFORD Bulls head coach John Kear is happy with the hybrid approach the club is taking, and says that Bulls made the right decision to mix, full-time and part-time players together in one squad.

Kear told the Telegraph and Argus: “I believe we will be fitter than any other part-time team with our part-time players. Our full-time players will obviously be fitter, so straight away that gives us an advantage going into a long, tough season.

“The club was quite right to adopt this project, if you had gone full-time, you would have missed out on some really high quality part-time players who we feel will help us achieve our quest for promotion.

“Like Matty Garside and Elliot Minchella, they would have been lost to us, it’s a sensible thing to do with regard to the quality of player you can attract.

“Matty Garside has got a good job, when you’re knocking out £30,000 a year with that and have another £12-14,000 playing rugby, to make it worthwhile to go full-time you’re looking at a £45,000-50,000 contract. We can’t do that with the position the club is in, so we have to work within our means.

“I don’t think there are many clubs that have done this and it was one of the challenges that appealed to me.

“I’ve been full-time for a vast number of years, I went part-time at Batley and then returned to full-time with Wakefield, all I’ve tended to do is attempt to combine the best of both worlds.

“Obviously the full-timers can get in a bit of extra work in terms of analysis and conditioning and skill development. I’ve tried to emphasise the fact that it is a team, we make sure we have enough team sessions to grow as a unit together.”

Cougars Canadian Deal

KEIGHLEY Cougars have entered into a historic partnership with the Canadian Rugby League Association. The agreement will see a number of initiatives change between both organisations and will look to enhance the club’s status.

On the partnership, Canadian Rugby League Association Board Member and Keighley Cougars supporter Darren Mabbott said: “The new board of directors at Canada Rugby League wanted to form some new partnerships to expand the brand of Canada and hopefully Keighley aswell.

“Because of the early 90’s during the height of Cougarmania people in Rugby League still have a soft spot for Keighley. Rugby League wouldn’t be what it is today without the Cougars and the level of popularity the club still has, means this partnership can only go from strength to strength.

“The overall aim though for the partnership is more publicity for the Canadian game and the Cougars and form a working partnership for players in the Canadian domestic game and have some of them come to the UK and train with Keighley.

“The Cougars faced the Toronto Wolfpack last year and the Wolfpack have taken Rugby League in Canada up to a completely different level in terms of the standard of the game.

“Outside of the Wolfpack, there’s 12 teams across Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia in the domestic competition but this link with Keighley will hopefully make the domestic game stronger and produce a better quality of player.

“The 2025 World Cup is a major event for Canada and the United States as it’s not a traditional nation and will take the profile and standard of the game in both countries up. It will increase as it will provide valuable for experience for everyone involved to test themselves against the top nations such as Australia, England and New Zealand.

“It was my suggestion to forge the partnership with the Keighley Cougars as I’m a supporter of the club for 30 years and after speaking to Craig Lingard, things are looking good.”

Ford insists ‘he is the boss’

YORK City Knights head coach James Ford says that there is no truth in the suggestion that dual-registration club Hull KR’s boss Tim Sheens picks the Knights team for a match day.

That has also been backed up by Rovers boss Sheens, York’s partnership with Hull KR is now going into its second season. However there were recent suggestions that Sheens would be having a more active role in York after comments appeared by both himself and a Hull KR player in the Hull Daily Mail.

Sheens told the Hull Daily Mail: “A number of our younger guys will be playing at York this year but also those who are coming back from injuries could also go there for game-time.”

This was followed up by comments from Rovers youngster Joe Cator who said: “James Webster had pulled me aside and told me I’d be featuring a lot at York.”

Image source: @SuperLeagueRR

However Ford has now come out and clarified the situation that lies between both clubs, and says that in no way shape or form would Rovers boss Sheens be picking his York side.

Ford told The Press: “We’ve got a good relationship with Hull KR. There will be players offered up to us on dual-reg, but there is no obligation for me to pick them.

“We want to win as many games as we can, if that includes four dual-reg players, it includes four dual-reg players, if it includes no dual-reg players, it includes no dual-reg players.”

Sheens added: “I found it really beneficial last year sending a number of players to York for a couple of weeks before reintroducing them into our side. I want every player to have a match at least every two to three weeks, and our partnership with York gives us just one option to do so.”

“We will be working around what James wants, hopefully it works out as a good partnership, we’re not taking away any of their autonomy. We want to see York go to the next division, we both want to deliver and, with the right people and, touch wood, not too many injuries, we will be a strong pair.

“I’m really looking forward to working with them, James has done a great job, they’ve got a few classy players, I think York are a side that will give plenty in that division.”

Halifax Strengthen Squad ahead of new season

HALIFAX have brought in two new players to the club, the first is forward Dan Fleming from Toronto Wolfpack, the second player is full-back Kian Morgan who has been signed on a permanent deal after impressing on a trial period.

Fleming a Welsh international has joined the Shay Stadium club from transatlantic side Toronto on a deal that will run until 2020. Fleming made 15 appearances for the Wolfpack last year, and has played six times for Wales scoring two tries.

He said on joining Halifax: “It’s massive for me coming home back to Halifax, I grew up across the road from Thrum Hall and I now live five minutes away from the ground so it’s great to come back to my hometown. My brother and I have been Halifax fans all of our lives, even when I played elsewhere, I always got down to watch the team when we had days off so to represent my hometown club is massive.

“I spent some time at Castleford, Bradford and then Toronto last year and it’s been a good experience. But I’m hoping to kick on now down at Halifax. The club has shown what they can do off the field and obviously on field as well, making the Qualifiers last year beating Hull KR in that final home game so I’m excited to get started and look forward to learning from Richard Marshall.”

On bringing in his new player head coach Richard Marshall commented: “We needed some experience in the front row and Dan is a proven super league player. He’s durable, he’s robust, he’s big and he’s going to offer us quite a lot of impact. I’m looking forward to working with him, I’ve monitored his career over the last 2/3 years, he’s always been on our radar and he’s a Halifax lad which is the icing on the cake really.

“The club has acted quickly in securing Dan on a 2-year contract and we wouldn’t have brought him in if we didn’t think he could improve us, we need some experience around this young team. We’d like to thank Laurence Turner of Investing For Tomorrow for his significant financial support which, alongside our elevated season ticket sales, has helped us to get this deal over the line.

“I must also thank Paul Rowley and Martin Vickers at Toronto for agreeing to release him and his agent Dave Peet for making sure this move got finalised. I think it’s a great amicable fit for both clubs.”

Morgan a 17 year old full back has been on trial with the club and has impressed so much so that the head coach Marshall has decided to offer the young talent a permanent deal.

Marshall said of Morgan’s arrival to the club: “He’s come into our environment for the opportunity to play rugby. He’s been in and around the first team for the last 3 weeks and he’s clearly got some ability, there were a few clubs sniffing around so we acted and offered him a contract.

“Physically, he’s not developed enough yet but he’s got some skills and attributes, he’s got good agility, pace, he’s tough and he reads the game well at Full Back. There are still some things that he needs to improve but he’ll get that chance here.

“He’ll play in our reserve grade initially and we’d like to help him develop his potential and progress through our ranks. They’ve all got to start somewhere and again, it’s testament to the work Martin and Steve (Greenwood) do with the reserve grade, along with the backing of our sponsors and Supporters Trust, the fact that we run a reserve grade means we are approached.”

Five Memorable Moments From The Rugby League 2017 World Cup

David Fusitu'a

The 2017 World Cup provided a fantastic advertisement for the myriad joys of watching rugby league, featuring ferocious battles, shock results and the closest final in decades.

Australia won their 11th title in 15 tournaments to further cement their dominance over the sport, but a valiant performance from England in the final made things interesting. Meanwhile, Tonga lit up the tournament with their on-field heroics and colourful support, and neutrals were treated to several enthralling clashes. Here are the top five moments from a memorable World Cup:

  1. The unstoppable Sipi Tau meets the immoveable Siva Tau

Tonga’s Sipi Tau and Samoa’s Siva Tau are each momentous displays of passion, intimidation and cultural heritage, enough to whip up frenzy inside a stadium. But when performed simultaneously they created a positively spine-tingling atmosphere.

The two island nations clashed in Hamilton’s Waikato Stadium, which was packed to the rafters with boisterous fans, and the teams decided to perform their war dances in unison. The Samoans began clapping to get the fans on their feet, and the Tongans threw down the gauntlet from across the pitch. The ferocious dance-off took place for two-and-a-half minutes as the fans went berserk and the Waikato Stadium became a cauldron of raucous noise.

Tonga earned a 32-18 victory, but what happened before the game reverberated around the world. The players knew they had been part of something special and linked up for a prolonged post-match huddle as supporters wept.

  1. Valentine breaks Fijian hearts

Australia winger Valentine Holmes was undoubtedly the star of the show at the 2017 World Cup. He became the first player to ever score five tries in a World Cup game when he put Samoa to the sword in the quarter-final, leading his team to a 46-0 rout.

That performance was astounding, but then he went one better in the semis, setting a new World Cup record with six tries against Fiji. That was the first time an Australian player had bagged six tries in a single match since Ken Irving against Italy in the 1960s, but that was not even a Test match, let alone a World Cup semi-final.

Holmes crossed 12 times in total over the course of the tournament, eclipsing the record set by Wendell Sailor in 2000. At just 22 years of age the future looks extremely bright for this extremely talented winger. He might even give the Sharks an outside chance in the NRL betting.

  1. A genuinely tense final

Australia have made a habit of steamrollering teams in the World Cup final: they played New Zealand in the previous three and won comfortably each time, including a 34-2 thumping in 2013. Given the outstanding form of Holmes and the crushing nature of their victories up to that point, the Kangaroos were expected to trounce England in the decider. But kudos to the English for making a game of it.

The final was not exactly full of thrills, but it was a tense, nervy affair. England’s defence remained resilient throughout, breached just once as Boyd Cordner crashed through to make it 6-0. Australia dominated but England had their chances and almost seized glory when Leeds centre Kallum Watkins broke through, only to be denied by Josh Dugan’s magnificent lunging ankle tap.

It was a titanic battle of brutal intensity and it showed that England can be a force to be reckoned with in future tournaments, which can only be a good thing for Australia as it should keep them on their toes.

  1. England withstand late Tonga pressure

The semi-final played out by England and Tonga culminated in a nerve-shredding finale. England were in control for 73 minutes and were cruising to the final, leading 20-0 and feeling supremely comfortable. Then Tonga exploded into life. Tevita Pangai Junior crashed over the line to give the Tongan fans something to cheer, but they went positively wild when Siliva Havili made it 20-12. Two minutes later, England’s advantage was reduced to just two points as Tuimoala Lolohea scored another try, and Tonga were suddenly within one score of a maiden World Cup final.

The partisan crowd roared them on and Andrew Fifita looked like he had won it for Tonga at the death, only to see his try ruled out. Cue a gigantic sigh of relief for England. It was a breathtaking end to the match and Tonga could leave with their heads held high.

  1. Tonga topple New Zealand

Before meeting England, Tonga pulled off a huge upset by overwhelming New Zealand in one of the greatest matches in World Cup history.

It started off with another spine-chilling showdown as the Haka met the Sipi Tau, but this time events during the game eclipsed the pre-match challenges. Tonga also found themselves in real trouble in this game, 16-2 down at half-time thanks to strong work from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Jordan Rapana and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. But they hit back in stunning fashion after the break, scoring four quick tries in a phenomenally dominant display.

David Fusitu’a was the star of the show, scoring a brilliant hat-trick, with the final one cancelling out a late second try from Tuivasa-Sheck to seal a 28-22 victory. This was the game of the tournament and it created history as it was the first time a tier-two nation got the better of a top tier country.

It was a fantastic achievement for a team made up of players born in Australia and New Zealand, and it vindicated decisions from the likes of Fifita, Fusitu’a, Jason Taumalolo, Manu Ma’u and Sio Siua Taukeiaho to represent their motherland, as they topped their group, beat Lebanon in the quarters and almost made the final after giving England the fright of their lives.

Walker joins Hornets coaching staff

Image source: @RochdaleOnline via Twitter

ROCHDALE Hornets have appointed recently retired player Anthony Walker to the club’s coaching team, as the Hornets make him a development coach.

Walker who played for St Helens, Wakefield Trinity, Rochdale Hornets, Whitehaven and the Dewsbury Rams.  The Wales forward had revealed on social media that he had to retire from the game due to an abnormality on his brain.

On ending his career due to a medical condition, he said: “It was really hard to take, especially finding out the day before I was supposed to go to Australia with Wales.

“I struggled the first day or two, but then I realised I have a nice family at home and there is more to life than rugby. My career was going to come to an end at some point, mine was just about seven years short. It was tough thinking you’re never going to put your gum-shield in and boots on ever again.

“I enjoyed my rugby with Rochdale and I’d hit some form, so I wanted to go back full-time if I could have, all good things come to an end though.”

On joining the club as a coach, Walker continued: “I spoke to Alan (Kilshaw) and Rammy (Dave Ramsbottom) when I found out I wouldn’t be playing anymore, because I just wanted to stay involved in the game.

 “I think it’s just the dressing room and the banter with the lads I would have missed more than the playing side. I’ve been coaching at Blackbrook for a couple of years now, and I always thought the next step in my coaching career would be in the professional game rather than six lads turning up at training.

“I’m young to be a coach so I’ve got many years of coaching ahead of me, but I just want to progress and learn and one day be an assistant, and so-on.”

Hornets head coach Kilshaw was pleased to have Walker join his coaching staff, especially after the traumatic news he had received.

“When any player is forced to retire due to injury it’s very unfortunate, however Anthony can look back on his career with great pride. He has played for his hometown club and contributed to successful seasons at Wakefield, Rochdale and Whitehaven.

“We have now put steps in place to help him with the next stage of his career, with him doing some community work for the foundation and coming onto the coaching team as a development coach.

“We are all very grateful for the support and care he has received by a number of different people, including the medical team at Rochdale, RL Cares and our player welfare manager Dave Ramsbottom.”

Bulls on the hunt for new head coach

BRADFORD Bulls are looking to appoint a new head coach after Geoff Toovey has left the club with his contract not being renewed, the favourite for the job is former Featherstone boss Jon Sharp.

On the Toovey decision, Co-owner Andrew Chalmers said: “Geoff joined us as we embarked on our journey to re-build the club. He worked tirelessly with the support of the football staff to try and overcome last season’s 12-point penalty.

“We would like to thank Geoff for stepping in at a difficult time and for the personal sacrifices he made to commit to last season, we wish him all the best in the future.”

Toovey added: “It was a tough decision not to return to the Bradford Bulls for a second year, last year was one of the most challenging years that I’ve had as a coach.

“The club and the fans made the experience one I will never forget, I’m confident the club will have an excellent season in 2018 and continue to move forward beyond the coming year.”

On moving forward to find a replacement, football manager Stuart Duffy said: “We have begun the process of recruiting a Head Coach. I stress that no one has been interviewed for the role as yet and we are looking for suitably experienced and qualified Coaches to send an expression of interest by Email to myself at the club by next Friday, 24th November.”

Owen makes Dons move

Image source: @Doncaster_RLFC via Twitter

DONCASTER have signed outside back from Richard Owen who has played for Super League sides Castleford Tigers, and Wakefield Trinity.

The 27 year old has played 150 games at Super League level, scoring 300 points and Owen is excited to be adding his experience to the Dons squad.

On arriving at the club, Owen said: “It’s the right time in my life to get back to playing rugby, Carl has made me feel really welcome and I feel that it’s a good club for me. I’ve had a few clubs interested but when I spoke to Richard Horne and Carl Hall they sounded genuine and that’s the sort of people I need in my life.

“I’m happy to play wherever the coach wants me, being back in the team environment is what I want so I’m buzzing to get started.”

Head coach Richard Horne added: “We’re happy to have Richard on board with us, he’s a quality player and will really add something to the squad we have.

“He has a lot of experience from his time in Super League and after speaking to him, he is very focused on helping us achieve our goal in pushing for promotion.”

“It’s great for us to have secured Richard Owen’s signature, meeting him was similar to when we signed Paul Cooke from the conversation we had.

“If Richard can have a similar impact then we’ll have a real good player on our hands, his experience of playing at the top level could be key for us.

“He feels the time is right for him to come back into the game, I would like to welcome him to our club and I’m sure the fans will do the same.” CEO Carl Hall said on Owen signing for the club.

Bent arrives in Oldham from Super League giants

Image source: @OldhamTimes via Twitter

OLDHAM have signed second-row forward Liam Bent on a permanent deal from Super League side Salford Red Devils.

The 19 year old played 17 times on loan at the Roughyeds last season, and wasn’t offered a new deal at Salford, and so has decided to sign for the Kingstone Press League One club on a permenant contract.

Chairman Chris Hamilton said on Bent’s arrival: “Liam was unlucky not to get another contract at Salford, a reflection of the changing situation there. We can improve his game, but he’ll give 100 per cent at all times. He works hard and he’s appreciated by team mates for his work ethic and terrific attitude.”

Head coach Scott Naylor added: “When Salford released him we were anxious to sign him before anybody else did. He showed in his 17 games for us last season that he was more than capable at Championship level, and he was only 19.

“Extremely professional in everything he does, he’s unbelievable in training and he’s meticulous in things like looking after himself and getting the right diet. He’s one of the nicest lads you could ever wish to meet and when you put him on a rugby field you know he’ll give everything he’s got. He’s a perfect match for the sort of squad we’re building here.”

 While Bent was gutted to not get a new contract at Salford, he is delighted to have signed for Oldham: “I definitely benefited from my time at Oldham last season and I loved every minute of it. I was really pleased when they came in for me to make me one of their own.

“They gave me opportunities last season and looked after me while I was there, so I was delighted to return the favour and show a bit of loyalty.

“I can’t wait to get going now, we return to training, but I’ve been doing a bit on my own for a few weeks, that’s me, I can’t do nothing, it’s not in my nature.”