Championship Preview: Whitehaven

Last season: 5th

Ged Stokes’ men enjoyed a relatively successful campaign last time around, finishing in the play-off places and, once again, proving extremely difficult to beat at the Recreation Ground.

Giants starlet Gregg McNally, who grew in stature as the season progressed, has returned to his parent club and his inventiveness from first receiver will be sorely missed. Kyle Amor, who earned a contract with Leeds in 2008, will again feature for Whitehaven in 2010 though and continue his development at Championship level.

Australian Dylan Skee has made the long journey up from London, having spent last season with the Harlequins, and is the man charged with plugging the gap left by McNally.

The news that Leroy Joe will miss the first month and a half of the league season with a fractured ankle is a massive blow to Whitehaven. The experienced Kiwi swept the board at the club’s end of season awards last year and, despite his age, is a vital cog in the ‘Haven machine, capable of slotting into almost any position on the park.

The loss of Joe for the early stages of the season and the departure of McNally could prove significant and Haven’s season will hinge on how quickly new signing Skee settles in. While others around them have significantly strengthened, Haven have been relatively quiet on the transfer front, but they will remain tough to beat at home.

Their away form will be vital, and a play-off spot isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, if they can combine a fortress Recreation Ground with a few away wins.

Prediction: 9th
Key Man: Dylan Skee

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