Rovers chase two more signings

Rovers coach Andy Hay: "I am a bit happier than I was two weeks ago because things are now coming into place."
Rovers coach Andy Hay: "I am a bit happier than I was two weeks ago because things are now coming into place."

Featherstone Rovers coach Andy Hay is close to finalising his squad for next season.

Leeds Rhinos quartet Alex Foster, Thomas Minns, Mason Tonks and Jordan Baldwinson have been signed on one-year deals and Nathan Chappell has rejoined the club on a two-year contract.

Rovers are set to complete the signing of a Cook Island prop and they also have two other targets they hope to bring in.

“I’m a bit happier than I was two weeks ago because things are now coming into place,” said Hay.

“It’s been tough getting it all organised with the good prospects and targets we’ve been chasing - and it’s not just been us chasing them.

“We are still looking at a couple of names we might bring in. There are still a couple of things going on and we are just trying to fix up the last couple of deals.”

Foster, aged 21, and his three Rhinos team-mates, who are all aged 20, will join Rovers for the 2015 season having agreed new contracts with Leeds for 2016.

Loose-forward Foster and three-quarter Minns spent last season with London Broncos and forwards Tonks and Baldwinson spent last season at New Zealand Warriors and then Bradford Bulls.

Centre or second-rower Chappell, who left Rovers two years ago to play in Australia, arrives back in England tomorrow.

Featherstone are awaiting clearance from the RFL before revealing the name of the Cook Island signing.

Hay is delighted to have signed the Leeds quartet.

“They are fully committed to Featherstone Rovers for next season and I think they are good additions to the squad,” he said.

“It works in our favour. We have some young guys who have good experience for their age but they are not just coming on a dual reg to get back into Leeds first-team, they are coming for the full season to prove themselves at Championship level.

“Nathan Chapppell has been in Australia for a couple of years.

“I’ve seen footage of him playing for Featherstone and also in Australia.

“He’s big, quick and strong and looks a really good prospect for us.

“He wants to come back and finish where he left off and establish himself in the first team.

“The deal is almost done for the Cook Islander who is playing in Australia.

“We are just waiting for clearance from the RFL.

”The planning that has gone into the squad has been not just finding players who can play a couple of positions but also increasing the competition throughout the squad to help everyone play their best, week in week out.”

Rovers will also be boosted by the return from injury of forwards Matt Nicholson and Liam Walmsley.

n missed the entire 2014 campaign after sustaining a serious knee injury in a pre-season match while ex-Batley forward Walmsley struggled to overcome a broken arm.

Hay said: “Matt Nicholson is almost in full training. He is just waiting to get the all clear to go into full contact.

“If he doesn’t make it for our first pre-season match against Castleford - and we don’t want to push him too hard - we’ll probably see him in the Wakefield or Batley pre-season games.

“Liam Walmsley is also training really well after a tough time last season with injury.

“He’ll be pushing for a start as well in what will be a competitive squad.

“We haven’t decided yet who will play against Castleford - I will need to speak to Daryl Powell. We want a competitive game so we need to put out evenly matched teams.”

Australian Sam Irwin is now in full training with Rovers after arriving on Friday and the club’s other Aussie signing, prop Ryan Verdlinden, is set to arrive shortly.

Hay said: “Sam looks a really good prospect and can play half-back and hooker.

“As soon as the paperwork comes through for Ryan, we’ll get him booked on a flight. He’s training in Australia and he’s itching to get over here.”

More than 250 people attended Featherstone’s open day on Saturday.

“It was a very good turn out of fans and I think everyone was pretty impressed with what they saw,” added Hay.

“It gave fans a chance to have a look behind the scenes at our pre-season training and have a look at the new facilities.”

The deadline for early bird prices for Featherstone’s 2015 season tickets is noon this Saturday.

Top darts celebrity Wayne Mardle will be in action at a darts exhibition in the Rovers clubhouse tomorrow evening (Friday).

He will be joined by Sky Sports colleague Nigel Pearson, a lifelong Rovers fan who was born in Yorkshire but is now based in the West Midlands.

Rovers players and members of the audience will have the opportunity to enter a draw to play Mardle. There will also be a question and answer session, raffle and auction. A donation from the event will be made to the new grandstand fund at Rovers.

Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets cost £10. For more details contact the club on 01977-702386.

Rovers will hold their annual business partners evening at Big Fellas Stadium on Thursday, December 11.

The purpose of the evening is to thank business partners who have supported the club in 2014 and thank those who have already pledged their support to the club in 2015.

The club are inviting local businesses who would like to find out more about Rovers and their ambitious plans for the future.

The evening will kick off at 6pm when those attending can watch the first team squad in pre-season training at the club’s Centre of Excellence and then enjoy a hot buffet followed by a presentation by Rovers to outline their plans.

Rovers commercial manager Paul Taylor said: “With the new season just around the corner, now is the ideal opportunity to thank all our business partners in 2014 who contributed significantly to our continued growth. It is also timely to thank both new and existing business partners who have confirmed they will support the club in some way next season.

“As a club, we are striving to become even more business orientated and the evening will also allow us to introduce ourselves to potential new business partners, promote our facilities and update partners on the club’s development.”

For more information contact Mr Taylor on 01977- 702386 or email

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners: S Box (I4799), L Davis (C2884), D Monaghan (M5149), C Dove (H2091), P Wroe (W5247). £5 prizes: G Price (V6437), J Clark (V6330), B Wain (V0029), P Birkett (V3350), A White (W3350), L Greatorex (V5373).