Friction with Keighley
The future certainly isn’t looking bright for the Cougars. The club have been placed in special measures by the RFL after not paying players since August and seem to be at a standstill – deleting the club Facebook account and not posting anything else on social media since last Thursday.
More than anyone, I feel for the players and supporters. While some have found new clubs, Keighley have confirmed a number of re-signings whose careers are now in limbo. Meanwhile, there seems to be little or no communication with fans about the current situation. We’ve seen clubs come through difficulties like this before so hopefully all can be resolved, as it would be a real shame to lose a club with such good domestic history.
Up and down week for London
London Broncos’ week started on a positive note but ended on a rather sour one. The signing of Ryan Morgan is a massive coup for the club and will add plenty of much-needed experience and quality. On the downside, however, it was confirmed on Saturday that maverick halfback Jarrod Sammut will be leaving.
The latter is a huge blow, as Sammut would have been one of the club’s key leaders for their Super League return. Instead it now gives Danny Ward another headache and another position he needs to strengthen. In terms of who’s available, Josh Drinkwater is one name that is still yet to sign for a club. A move for someone like Ryan Brierley or Blake Wallace could also be smart, as both are likely to be on the fringes of the Toronto squad following the signing of Joe Mellor.
Wigan back Escaré
The Warriors are one of three clubs to have announced their 2019 squad numbers. New signings Zak Hardaker and Joe Bullock take 20 and 22 respectively, while Joe Greenwood takes the no.11 jersey. The big promotion, however, comes for Morgan Escaré, who takes the famous no.1.
Escaré has been given the backing over Hardaker by new coach Adrian Lam, and certainly deserves a chance to cement that fullback spot. He has become a firm fan favourite at the DW Stadium over the past two seasons and barely put a foot wrong last season, despite being used across four different positions. His utility value certainly lends its hand, but I hope he does enough to keep his place at the back.
Toronto expand expansion
They may not have reached their Super League goal just yet, but the Wolfpack are still striving to expand the game – and not just in Canada. Reports are circulating that they intend to play a game in Serbia next season, which would be the first ever RFL game played in Eastern Europe.
I think it’s a superb move, especially since Serbia is domestically one of the strongest rugby league expansion countries. Red Star Belgrade are making huge strides and will even be part of this year’s Challenge Cup, so hosting a Championship game on their home turf will be a huge boost. Who knows, maybe a Red Star/Wolfpack double header could even be on the cards.
Tansey gets another chance
One name I certainly didn’t expect to see pop up across the rugby league media last week was Jordan Tansey. The former Leeds, Hull, Wakefield and Castleford fullback has joined the club on a six-week trial as he looks to resurrect his career in the Championship.
After leaving Trinity in 2016, Tansey almost became rugby league’s forgotten man, but spent last season playing with Workington after an unsuccessful trial with Sheffield. After getting a full professional season under his belt, though, Tansey could be a smart piece of business for Rovers. With the season approaching they’re still pretty thin on number, particularly in the outside backs. And with a handful of youngsters occupying those positions, Tansey’s 200+ game experience could lend itself well.