Championship Preview: Swinton hungry to survive

Swinton Lions will just be hoping to avoid relegation in what is a very competitive Championship this year.

The Lions’ financial struggles off-the-field were well-documented in 2017 but they have overcome that hurdle, made some changes in senior positions at club and are now looking ahead to the future.

But this year, there are four full-time teams in the Betfred Championship in Leigh Centurions, Featherstone Rovers, Toulouse Olympique and Toronto Wolfpack so it’s going to be a tough journey.

This season will be one of the most testing in the club’s history, but they have got plenty of talent in their squad and not to mention a great Rugby League expert in Stuart Littler as head coach.

They have made two impressive signings in Gabe Fell and Kyle Shelford from Wigan Warriors. They have both played for the club previously on dual-registration and they have a lot of potential to be future Super League players.

And they have signed Redcliffe Dolphins captain Hayden Hansen, who can play at hooker or loose forward and is one of the best players in the second-tier.

Home games at Heywood Road look to be crucial for the Lions as they face a tough Championship season.

And assistant coach Tommy Gallagher revealed that Swinton are just aiming to finish in a better position than last year.

He told loverugbyleague.com: “We have got goals in-house but it is just to gradually improve on last year and improve week on week.

“We’ve got a new chairman in Andy (Mazey) who is very switched on and he knows what everything is about – he understands rugby and is a nice bloke.

“He wants us to progress and lead us to success so there are things off-the-field that are coming together so we have just got to get the things on-the-field firing as we want.”

Head Coach: Stuart Littler

Assistant Coach: Tommy Gallagher

Captain: Andy Thornley

Key Man: Chris Hankinson

One to Watch: Gabe Fell

Ins: Kyle Shelford (Wigan Warriors), Jesse Jo Sherriffe (Keighley Cougars), Marcus Webb (Hunslet), Danny Ansell (Hunslet), Chris Worrall (Gloucestershire All Golds), Hayden Hansen (Redcliffe Dolphins), Gabe Fell (Wigan Warriors), Elliott Caine (Wakefield Trinity), Connor Taylor (Warrington Wolves), George Tyson (Oldham Roughyeds).

Outs: Shaun Robinson (Featherstone Rovers), Ilias Bergal (Leigh Centurions), Olly Davies (Sheffield Eagles), Jack Murphy (Australia)

Squad: 1 Gabe Fell, 2 Marcus Webb, 3 Chris Hankinson, 4 George Tyson, 5 Mike Butt, 6 Danny Ansell, 7 Jack Hansen, 8 Andy Bracek, 9 Luke Waterworth, 10 Andy Thornley, 11 Rhodri Lloyd, 12 Matt Sarsfield, 13 Josh Barlow, 14 Hayden Hansen, 15 Ben Austin, 17 Kyle Shelford, 18 Mark Nicholson, 21 Chris Worrall, 22 Connor Taylor, 23 Elliott Caine, 24 Aaron Hall, Omar Djalout (no number), Jesse Jo Sherriffe (no number).

Prediction: 10th