Former Leigh Leopards & Salford Red Devils aces take leadership roles at Championship club for 2024

Ben Olawumi
Mitch Cox, Rhys Williams

Mitch Cox (left, tackling) & Rhys Williams (right) will be Swinton Lions' joint-captains in 2024 - Alamy

Former Salford Red Devils flier Rhys Williams and ex-Leigh Leopards ace Mitch Cox will be Swinton Lions’ joint-captains for the upcoming 2024 Championship season.

Williams made the short move to Swinton following his departure from Salford at the end of the season just gone, bringing an end to a four-year stint with the Red Devils.

The 34-year-old – who had a short stint Down Under playing in the Queensland Cup – has already featured as a loanee for Swinton, featuring 16 times in the 2013 campaign.

Having also donned a shirt for London Broncos, Warrington Wolves, Castleford Tigers and North Wales Crusaders, he has 278 club appearances in the British game to his name overall.

Born in Flintshire, the outside-back is Wales‘ all-time top appearance maker on the international front with 33 caps to his name, appearing in the last three World Cups as well as four editions of the European Cup.

Utility Cox meanwhile has been with Swinton for the last four seasons, amassing 75 appearances for the Lions to date with 24 tries to his name in their colours.

His brace on the final day at Halifax Panthers back in September helped the Lions to a win which sealed their survival in the Championship.

The 30-year-old had featured 19 times previously for Leigh – then Centurions – between 2018 and 2019, scoring seven tries including one on debut against Sheffield Eagles.

Mitch Cox & Rhys Williams take leadership roles at Swinton Lions for 2024

Head coach Alan Kilshaw – like Williams – is a new arrival ahead of the new season having made the move to take the reins from League 1 outfit Keighley Cougars.

He has also named a ‘core leaders’ group consisting of the quintet of Jordan Gibson, Dan Abram, Richard Lepori, Lewis Hall and Cole Oakley.

Speaking to Swinton’s club website, Kilshaw said: “It’s important for me to have a core leaders group, and with our two captains Mitch and Rhys leading it, we are well represented.

Rhys has a lot of experience at this and higher levels, and leads by example on and off the field. Mitch has been at the club a while now and is well respected in the group. He communicates well and plays tough on the field.

“Supporting those two will be the rest of the leaders group, who are all players who set good standards. We have some natural leaders in the team and there are some players who positionally will organise things on the field.

“We wanted a good balance for the core leaders group, while for some players we want them to have more of a focus on their own personal role without the extra responsibility.

“We are developing an environment where everyone will contribute within the team whether they are the captains, core leaders, or other squad members, but it’s equally important to have a group who can drive standards and also collaborate with myself and the coaching staff to maintain those standards and encourage enjoyment in the group.”

Former Leigh Leopards & Salford Red Devils aces deliver verdict on appointment as joint-captains

Williams – who scored a try for Salford in the 2020 Challenge Cup final – added: “I’m really enjoying my time so far at the club, and I’m very proud to have been named joint captain with Mitch.

“I aim to lead with my actions and be as solid as I can first and foremost, and then the leadership stuff will come naturally off the back of it.

“We have a great group who have all been willing to work for each other so far.”

Meanwhile, Cox – who helped the Lions to promotion up from League 1 in 2022 – re-affirmed: “Getting the captaincy role is a real honour for me. It’s my fifth season at the club, so it really does feel like home at Swinton.

“Everyone who has been at the club for the time I’ve been here will know what getting this role means to me. I will give my everything as captain for my team-mates, staff and fans.”

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