‘Magic Sheens’ in ‘no rush to sign new deal’; Plus trio need surgery in readiness for next season

Image source: @hullkrofficial

HULL KR boss Tim Sheens insists he is no rush to sign a new deal at the club and believes everything will get sorted in time.

With club chairman Neil Hudgell hopeful of contract discussions in the next few weeks, Sheens says that this isn’t the time to be discussing new contacts, and is instead focusing on getting the club ready for the Super League.

He has guided them back to the top flight, gaining promotion from Kingstone Press Championship, and is already tied into a lengthy deal at Rovers.

Sheens told the Hull Daily Mail: “It isn’t really up for discussion at the moment. I’m already in a three-year deal and have two years remaining. My mind is focused on next year and that’s all I’m focusing on right now. We’ve plenty of time to look at that down the line.

“We have been working hard the last few weeks and now we’re promoted there’s lots of meetings, but it is not just the roster, we’re looking at absolutely everything in the club to get ready.”

Meanwhile centre Andrew Heffernan, prop Nick Scruton and captain and hooker Shaun Lunt may all miss the majority of pre-season in readiness for the Super League due to needing surgery on various injuries.

Heffernan who has had a shoulder problem went for surgery last week and is expected not to return to action until late January. Scruton will need surgery on a wrist injury and possible shoulder problem also. While Lunt is still awaiting scan results to determine the extent of his injuries.

Sheens said: “Heffernan has been needing the surgery for probably the last five or six weeks but has kept playing and we’ve managed him through.

“Nick has a wrist problem which we’re looking to get done, but he’s also got a shoulder issue which we are looking at. Lunt is having his shoulder looked at and we don’t know if he needs surgery yet or not.

“Danny Addy has torn a pec muscle so he’ll be done for the year too. The players have been playing busted for us.

“Getting the chance to get the surgery done now early is important because if they need their shoulder doing that’s four to six months out depending on how serious. Even Nick with his wrist will be laid up for a couple of months.”

One player who isn’t injured but has been given time off is prop Mose Masoe, he  has returned to Australia for a break before returning early with his family for pre-season.

Keighley Cougars’ Ben Sagar retires

Image source: @Cougarmania

KEIGHLEY Cougars have said goodbye to one of its standout players in second-rower Ben Sagar who has decided to retire from the game.

Sagar returned to the field of play after a two year absence which saw the birth of his daughter. He joined Craig Lingard’s side at the beginning of the year and has made 11 appearances across the season.

A local player who became a fans favourite, he first joined the Cougars back in 2009. Sagar helped the side win promotion to Championship One, however the following year was a struggle and the side fell into admiration and was relegated.

A few head coaches later and Sagar won Coaches and Players’ Player of the Year in 2011 while under the stewardship of Jason Demetriou. Since 2009 and over his two spells at the club he has made 84 appearances scoring 14 tries and been part of two promotion winning squads.

In other news the Cougars have signed winger Andy Gabriel and prop Scott Law up for another season at Cougar Park.

Gabriel originally joined the club’s reserve side in 2014, since then a string of eye catching performances earned him a first team place.

An impressive debut season in which he scored 21 tries, becoming League One’s top try scorer. He was awarded League One’s player of the year for his efforts.

While 2016 was not as fruitful for him, 2017 has been a good year for the former Bradford amateur player who has crossed the line 19 times so far this season.

Meanwhile Law who is known locally as ‘Judge’, has just signed his new deal taking him into his 10th year as a Keighley player. After joining the club from Rochdale Hornets in 2008, he has been a Keighley player ever since.

Law is coming up to his 200th appearance for the club, and will become Keighley’s 2nd longest severing player from next year, Brendon Rawlins being at the top of that list.

Bradford bringing through the youth

Image source: @OfficialBullsRL

BRADFORD Bulls academy graduates, prop forward Liam Kirk and centre Ross Oakes haved signed new deals until 2019.

Kirk has so far scored three tries this season, two of those coming against Hull KR, and he said on his new contract: “I’m really happy to have re-signed for the club. I love it here, it has always been my dream to play professionally with the Bulls, and I’m just trying to seize the opportunity with both hands.

“Bradford is a club that has been through a lot in the last few years. I want to give everything that I can to this place to try and get it back to where it belongs.

“I absolutely love it here. The club seems to have this positive aura around it no matter what. It is a special club and I’m thrilled to dedicate myself to it and be a part of its future.

“I’ve played a lot more than I expected to this year, but I had a job to do and I wanted to do it to the best of my abilities. I have loved every second of the season so far and I can’t wait for more.”

Meanwhile Oakes commented: “Ever since I signed for the club at the junior level I always had high hopes for my future here. I always wanted to make my way into the first team and create a name for myself.

“This is the club that I have grown up supporting so playing for the first team this year has been incredible. We have had our high and lows, but there is a very positive feel around the place at the minute, there is plenty of good things to come out of Bradford.

“Dedicating myself for the next two years to this place was an easy decision to make, I love everything about this club. I did have other offers but this is where I have always wanted to play my rugby.”

Hornet’s hand trio new deals

Image source: @RochdaleHornets

ROCHDALE Hornets centre Lewis Galbraith, scrumhalf Danny Yates and hooker Ryan Maneely have all put pen to paper on new one year deals.

Yates, 23 year’s old joined the club permanently in 2015 after having a stint at the Hornets on dual-registration. He has made 86 appearances for the club and has seven tries so far this season.

Maneely joined the club on an initial one month loan deal near to the end of last season and has ended up staying at Rochdale permanently, signing from Halifax. the 22 year old has so far played 33 times for the Hornets scoring six tries.

Meanwhile Galbraith has had an up and down season, after a serious charge by the RFL which turned into a ban for an incident which took place in the Summer Bash earlier in the season. The centre won his appeal against the ban and was therefore able to play for Rochdale again in the campaign.

Boss Alan Kilshaw said on the new deals for the players: “Each year Danny has improved, and I think 2018 will be his best season yet. He is a really likeable person and someone I enjoy working with, he is a great professional.

“I think he has adjusted well, he is up to the physical elements of the Championship and now just needs to find that level of consistency in his game week in week out.

“I can see Danny having a big impact next season, with another pre-season under his belt he will improve even more.”

“I imagine Danny will be part of the leadership group next season, He has stepped up this year in the absence of other players and shown some really good leadership skills.

“He has also taken over the goal kicking duties and has found consistency in this over the past few weeks.

“Ryan is an important member of the squad, he has been very consistent this season. His pace around the ruck compliments Ben’s style and makes for a strong combination at hooker.

“Ryan has featured from the bench for the majority of the season, but we have mixed it around a bit this season depending who we are playing.

“Ryan has a good engine and we always knew he could step up, but to sustain that level of work over 80 minutes has been remarkable.”

On the Galbraith deal Kilshaw said: “I’m not sure I can handle him for a third year in a row. He’s a great bloke, good to have around the place and a quality player.

“He has come on leaps and bounds, he is one of the best trainers in the gym and he has now converted his training into consistent performances. I’m very pleased and proud of how far he has kicked on.

“I was pleased with how he conducted himself throughout the ban and appeal process, even seeking out Sam Gee after the Oldham game to shake hands.

“I expect him to kick-on in 2018 after a good campaign this year, I’m sure he will be on teams tip sheets as a threat so he needs to manage that expectation and the greater challenges he will face, but I’m confident he will.”

Cooper Stays at Featherstone

Luke Cooper

FEATHERSTONE Rovers front-rower and rising academy star Luke Cooper has signed a new two year deal at the club.

The one club man said of his new deal: “I am absolutely over the moon to be staying with Featherstone, this is a great club and I love it here. I have been here for a long time now, having come up through the ranks with Featherstone, and I know what is expected here.

“I am happy to keep working hard to maintain my place in the team, I have big ambitions and want to fulfill them as a Rovers player. I really enjoyed my first run out under John Duffy, It was some experience to go out there in front of a brilliant crowd and it was good to go up against some really tough opposition.

“I suppose my fate is now back in my own hands in terms of nailing down a place in the team every week. With some of the more experienced players out injured, I have an opportunity to now prove myself and keep my spot.

“John (Duffy) has brought a great work ethic to the club and it will be good to get a full season under him in 2018, we want to finish the Super 8s strongly.

On Cooper, Featherstone head coach John Duffy commented: “I am really pleased Luke has re-signed for the club. He has come through the ranks here and is ready to kick on and mature into a top Championship player.

“Luke’s attitude is fantastic and he has impressed me. Since I arrived here, Luke has been first class and has waited for his chance. He took it with both hands on Sunday. I am looking forward to him having a big off season with us and staking a claim for a regular spot in the team.”

Marshall proud of nomination

Richard Marshall

HALIFAX head coach Richard Marshall has once again been shortlisted for the 2017 Championship coach of the year.

He was nominated for the award last season, and won the prize in 2015, and insists it is great to be up for winning the award again this season.

Marshall said: “Obviously to get nominated for any prize or accolade makes you feel proud and part of something good. I think it’s testament to the players though this year, the adversity that they came through, and certainly the build up to getting into The Qualifiers.

“The last 3 or 4 games where they put everything on the line speaks volumes of the character of the players. I think a good measure of somebody is if they get a bit of adversity, like last year where we didn’t make the top four, and then you come through. We managed to galvanise, I thought, it’s actually brought us a bit stronger and closer together.

“I’ve had a great coaching team with Scott (Murrell) and Simon (Grix) who are used as player coaches, they’ve been very good for me, working hard on their days off and challenging me, which is important.

“I’ve got a good support network, albeit it is player centred and player led, but even the people who’ve helped me over the last 2 or 3 years, Marlon (Billy), Chris Rose and Chris O’Connor, are all part of what we’ve done going forward, nobody gets left behind.

“Yeah I’m really pleased but, as I said, it’s a really good achievement for the players, I get the nomination but ultimately it’s what they’ve done on the pitch.”

Regarding what’s changed at the club and the differences between this year and last year, Marshall said: “I think our defence has been outstanding throughout the year, I think I remember when I came in I wanted to really get the lads to understand the value of defending, as a team and as a group. And we probably missed a bit of that last year, probably with chopping and changing the team and injuries.

“This year we’ve had a bit of a settled team, the players understand exactly what is expected of them, what we require, and what my philosophy is based around. And they bought into that, and helped me as well to develop my philosophy in other areas which is important.”

Marshall knows full well he is coming up against tough competition for the award though, and realises how big of an achievement it would be for him to win it.

He continued: “It would be great. It would be a fantastic achievement, but there are some fantastic other candidates up there obviously. Tim Sheens is an international, world class coach. Andrew Henderson is probably similar to myself. He’s been at the club a couple of years, he’s had it tough and he’s come through. But for us to finish where we did in the league, third as a part time team is and was fantastic.”

“It would probably mean more to me this year, it was all a bit of a rollercoaster first year and I don’t feel the competition was as strong. I think the competition is a lot stronger now. So taking that into consideration it would mean a lot to me, but I reckon it’ll be tough with the calibre of the other coaches.”

Cockayne confident about the future

Ben Cockayne

HULL KR winger Ben Cockayne is moving from the field to the commercial team as he looks to build a career off the pitch.

The 34 year old will be joining League One side York City Knights next season in a playing position, while moving to a background role at Rovers.

On this decision Cockayne said: “The important thing for me is that beyond this season I will still be able to have a connection with this club.

“They have given me a lot of support over the years and it’s time for me to give back, it’s a role I’m excited about because I’ve got some fresh ideas to bring in. It all revolves around making the connection between the fans, players, staff and sponsors better and stronger.

“Without blowing my own trumpet I think I’m an ideal candidate to help the club advance in certain areas, I’m looking forward to it. I will be upstairs and I’m guessing I’ll be under some kind of instruction up there but at the same time, I’d like to think I can bring my own stuff to the table as well.

“From a point of view of communication between what the players need, I think I can help those guys upstairs understand more from a players’ point of view of what is important. I think I’ve got an important role to play and it’s one that I think I can do well.”

“My mind is telling me I want to keep playing and I’ve still got the bit between my teeth, I’m a firm believer you are a long time retired and I wouldn’t want to come back out of retirement for one more go.

“My body feels great and while that’s still the case, I’m excited about the challenge at York as well next year. They have ambition, good young players and a great coach. The partnership they have with KR means I will still be able to have an influence on the KR youngsters.

“But at the same time I would love to have one more run-out in front of the East Stand, maybe if we can get the job done and results go our way, I’ll get that chance before the season is over.”

Mazey new Chairman at Swinton

andy mazey

SWINTON Lions have a new chairman and his name is Andy Mazey, a successful business man and who works as the head of the SR Waite Group.

He has also supported the club through player sponsorship and has given the club advice over the last few turbulent weeks.

Mazey will be joined on the board by Steve Wild who will oversee operational matters, and Alan Marshall will be in charge of the finances. Steve Moyse will also join the club’s new board as a representative of the Supporters’ Trust. David Jones who is the club’s current president will also support the new board in any way he can.

With regards to how the club will now be run, it means that no single person will have the whole control of the club. Any decisions to be made will be done democratically and be solved by having a whole board discussion.

On his appointment Mazey said: “It is an absolute honour to become Chairman of a club with such a rich heritage as Swinton Lions. Since the extent of the club’s financial problems came to light, there have been some outstanding efforts from Swinton supporters.

“That level of passion and commitment to the club is ultimately what persuaded me that Swinton Lions is a club worth investing in, and one that can have a bright future. I have also witnessed at first hand the tremendous efforts of Alan, Steve and David to keep the club alive in stressful and often overwhelming circumstances.

“Their determination and love for the club also persuaded me that Swinton Lions was a club worth helping. Also, despite the troubled background, Stuart, Jay and all the players and staff have never given less than 100%.

“The game of Rugby League is my passion and I have been fortunate to have some great times in both the professional and community games over a number of years. However, the challenge of taking Swinton Lions forward and leading this new management team, together with our loyal volunteers and fantastic supporters, is one that has really wet my appetite.

“The focus now is to continue our recent efforts on and off the pitch to see out the 2017 season successfully, whilst developing a sustainable business model to move forward in the months and years ahead.

“We have a clear goal to get this club back home to M27 which will enable us to maximize our potential and fully re-engage the community of Swinton & Pendlebury and its young people, who are of course the Lions’ players, coaches and supporters of the future.”

Grady gets new deal at Crusaders

mike grady
Image source: Love Rugby League

NORTH Wales Crusaders head coach Mike Grady has signed a new one year deal at the club, and insists he is looking forward to building the team for the future.

On his new deal Grady said: “My first aim is to finish this season strongly, with having both mine and Jonny’s futures sorted, we can now speak to players about next season and start to build.

“My intention is to keep the majority of this year’s squad and then strengthen in a few areas to allow us to challenge in the top eight next year. I’ve learned a lot from my first season in charge, and hopefully I can put that to good use next year.

“It’s great to be able to have plenty of time to plan ahead for next year for everything from training venues to players. The support at the club has been fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for any more from the fans.

“They’re there week in, week out whatever the result and it creates a fantastic atmosphere around the club. It’s now important for us to go out on a high this year and then start to build for next year.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my time here and am also keen to improve on what we’ve achieved this season.”

Andy Ellis Stays on and Dickenson is appointed as board member

Andy Ellis

YORK City Knights have kept hold of hooker Andy Ellis for another season, as he puts pen to paper on a new one year deal.

Knights head coach James Ford said: “I’m really pleased to add Andy’s skill, leadership and experience to the squad for next season. He’ll form an outstanding partnership with Harry Carter and play a very important role in his development also.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Andy, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to continue to do so.”

While Ellis commented: “I’m delighted to get the deal sorted and extend my time at York for a further 12 months. York have been great to me since my arrival and it was a very easy decision to extend my stay here.

“The team has improved out of sight since I first arrived and I’m excited to see just how far we can progress. The club enjoys first class facilities so with a full run at pre season this winter, we should really hit the ground running, no matter what division we’re playing in.

“For now though, I’m pleased to get the deal sorted and concentrate solely on giving my all for the remainder of 2017.”

In other news York have added experienced business owner Joanne Dickenson to their board, she is a shareholder in the popular ‘Rugby AM’ show fronted by Alex Simmons and Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

On her appointment to the board she said: “It has been a joy to see the turnaround at the Knights this year under the stewardship of Jon Flatman and the team he has in place. The buzz within the City and the wider game for what has been achieved is a joy to see and that is why it is with great pleasure that I have accepted Jon’s offer of a seat on the Board of Directors.

“I have been a huge fan of Rugby league from the grass roots right up to the professional game, our sport is unique in its ability to develop bonds that last. It is my goal to help foster these bonds between the Knights and the people of York and North Yorkshire which will help see the game and the club grow.

“As the mother of a Rugby mad 14 year old boy at New Earswick all blacks and a shareholder at Rugby AM I have been able to witness what a positive influence our game can be for the good. Through my involvement with Rugby AM I have been lucky enough to meet many great characters within the sport and I will be using these relationships to help us achieve our goals.

“It is my passion to help Jon make Rugby League in York aspirational for the children of our region and we will do that by developing and promoting positive role models that embrace the true essence of what Rugby League has to offer.”

One person who was happy to see the appointment of Dickenson, is Rugby league legend and Hull KR Director of Rugby Jamie Peacock who said: “I have known Jo for some time and her knowledge of and passion for rugby league is second to none. I am sure her involvement with the Knights will help take them to the next level. It is great to see a strong and fair minded woman as a director at a rugby league club”

Meanwhile Rugby Football League Chief Operating Officer, Ralph Rimmer also commented: “This is a fantastic appointment for York City Knights and one that shows the vision and direction the club is heading in.

“Joanne’s commitment to the club, community and city will be felt as I know she will fully get behind the development of the Knights. This addition is one of many to a growing roster of talented women in Rugby League.”