Championship Round One: Squad news, TV coverage & predictions

Drew Darbyshire
Championship ins and outs SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Here is everything you need to know about Round One in the Championship, including squad news, television coverage and our predictions.

After what seems like the longest off-season ever, the Championship finally makes its return this weekend.

French club Toulouse, who suffered relegation from Super League last season, face a tough trip to Cumbria to take on Barrow.

On their way out of Cumbria are Whitehaven, who face a trip to Odsal to play Bradford.

Sheffield face the short journey to Halifax, while Batley are heading down to the capital this weekend.

Swinton welcome Newcastle to Heywood Road on Sunday afternoon.

Monday night Rugby League returns next week too. Emma Jones & Co will be back on the recently rebranded ViaPlay Sports when newly-promoted Keighley host Championship favourites Featherstone.

Squad news

Barrow Raiders v Toulouse Olympique (Saturday, 3pm, Our League pay per view)

Andrew Bulman Barrow Raiders
Photo courtesy of Barrow Raiders

New Barrow centre Greg Worthington needs one try to reach 100 for his career. The Raiders have conceded 50 or more in their last four meetings with Toulouse, who have won the last seven meetings including the 2016 League 1 play-off final.

Prediction: Barrow fancy their chances of catching Toulouse’s thin squad cold – Raiders by 8

Barrow: Broadbent, Brooks, Bulman, Burke, Carter, Corkill, Cresswell, Emslie, Evans, Gillam, Iaria, Johnston, Langtree, Mossop, Sammut, Shaw, Stack, Toal, Wells, Wood, Worthington.

Toulouse: Ashall-Bott, Rennie, Jussaume, Marcon, Ralph, Shorrocks, Belmas, Hansen, Stefani, Peyroux, Marion, Pelissier, Akauola, Bretherton, Pezet, Armitage, Laguerre, Richards, Biscarro, Brochon, Lima.

Bradford Bulls v Whitehaven (Sunday, 3pm)

Bradford v Whitehaven Championship SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Bradford have lost their last two home games against Whitehaven – 12-4 in August and 36-22 back in September 2021, when the Cumbrians beat them to a play-off place.

Prediction: Could be a long year for Whitehaven and a much better one for Bradford – Bulls by 16

Bradford: Arundel, Baldwinson, Blackmore, Butler, England, Flanagan Jr, Flanagan Sr, Foggin-Johnston, Foster, Gill, Holmes, Johnson, Lawford, Lawrence, Lilley, Patton, Roby, Rogers, Thompson, Walker, Wallace.

Whitehaven: Freeman, Eccleston, Taylor, Teare, Dixon, Bishop, McAvoy, Walker, Holliday, Lanskey, Aiye, Doran, Tabu, Singleton, Bradley, O’Brien, Castle, Rourke, Spencer-Tonks, Fairhurst, Ainley.

Halifax Panthers v Sheffield Eagles (Sunday, 3pm)

Halifax v Sheffield Championship SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Halifax winger Lachlan Walmsley has scored in every game he has played against Sheffield Eagles since moving to the UK – one for Whitehaven and two for the Panthers.

Prediction: Usually tasty affairs between these two, home advantage should prove key – Panthers by 10

Halifax: Calcott, Fairbank, Gee, Inman, Jouffret, Kavanagh, Keyes, King, Larroyer, Maher, Maizen, McComb, Moore, Murray, Oakley, Rawsthorne, Saltonstall, Tangata, Walmsley, Wood, Woodburn-Hall.

Sheffield: Jones-Bishop, Welham, Oakes, Bass, Douglas, Halafihi, Dickinson, Bower, J Farrell, Hodgson, Gwaze, Wood, Broadbent, Kirk, Murphy, Hansen, Peachey, Liu, Sene-Lefao, Dawson-Jones, Aston.

London Broncos v Batley Bulldogs (Sunday, 3pm)

Dalton Grant London Broncos Championship SWpix
Photo: John Clifton/SWpix

Batley haven’t won away at London since 1988, when they were still known as Fulham. London have won their last 11 home games against the Bulldogs, including a surprising 30-20 win back in August.

Prediction: London to pick up a narrow win over last season’s Grand Finalists and get off to the positive start that they desperately need – Broncos by 4

London: Albert, Allen, Bassett, Bienek, Davis, Grant, Horsman, Hoyes, B Leyland, O Leyland, Lovell, Macani, Monk, Natoli, Parata, Raiwalui, Silva, Stock, Ulberg, Walker, Williams.

Batley: Buchanan, Hodson, Campbell, White, Woods, Gledhill, Leak, Hirst, Manning, Walshaw, Meadows, Ward, Blake, Lillycrop, Kibula, McGowan, Morton, Kaye, Flynn, Burton, Reilly.

Swinton Lions v Newcastle Thunder (Sunday, 3pm)

Swinton v Newcastle Championship SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Both sides have scored 30 or more on the last two meetings at Sale FC.

Prediction: A bit early for a four-pointer, but an important home win – Lions by 8

Swinton: Abram, Badrock, Baker, Bennion, Brogan, Burgess, Butt, Case, Cooper, Cox, Delaney, Eaves, Gibson, Gregson, Hatton, Lloyd, Olds, Rodden, Romeo, Spedding, Waterworth.

Newcastle: Anderson, Balmforth, Bailey, J Chapelhow, T Chapelhow, Clegg, Clark, Clarke, Davies, Donaghy, Flanagan, Foster, Gallagher, Johnson, Lawther, Moore, Tuliatu, Walsh, Walker, Williams, Young.

York Knights v Widnes Vikings (Sunday, 3pm)

York v Widnes Championship SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Widnes have lost every league game they’ve played against York since their relegation from Super League. Their only win in the last seven meetings was a Challenge Cup tie in 2019.

Prediction: Tough to call, Widnes won’t have a better chance to end their hoodoo – Vikings by 2

York: Antrobus, Barnard, Brown, Cunningham, Clarkson, Daley, Dee, Fitzsimmons, Glover, Harris, Harrison, Hingano, Jubb, Kirby, Kirmond, Marsh, Michael, Price, Teanby, Thompson, Towse.

Widnes: Owens, Ince, Fleming, Dixon, Gilmore, Fozard, Amor, Wilde, Lawton, Bent, Johnstone, Field, Grady, Lyons, Davies, Edge, Hatton, Brown, Holroyd, Walker, Millar.

Keighley Cougars v Featherstone Rovers (Monday, 7:45pm, ViaPlay Sports 1)

Keighley v Featherstone Championship SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Featherstone have won their last 15 games against Keighley dating back to May 2004. It’s Keighley’s first season in the Championship since 2014, when they were controversially relegated after Batley had a points deduction for fielding an ineligible player overturned on appeal.

Prediction: Big occasion for the Cougars, especially in front of the TV cameras, but Fev will be too strong – Rovers by 12

Keighley: Adebiyi, Agoro, Chisholm, Crooks, Everett, Gale, Gaylor, Graham, Ioane, Kesik, Levy, Miller, Parker, Robson, Roebuck, Santi, Spence, Storey, Trout, Walker, Young.

Featherstone: TBA

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