Whitehaven key duo to leave club

Drew Darbyshire

Louis Jouffret of Whitehaven in action during the Betfred Championship match between Newcastle Thunder and Whitehaven RLFC at Kingston Park, Newcastle

Whitehaven have confirmed key men Lachlan Walmsley and Louis Jouffret will leave the club at the end of the season.

Australian winger Walmsley has enjoyed a stunning season with Whitehaven in the Championship, scoring 15 tries. He qualifies to play for Scotland via family heritage and has been named in the Bravehearts’ squad to face Jamaica this autumn.

Whitehaven say they made a “very good” offer to keep Walmsley, who has been heavily linked with a move to Super League for next season.

Whitehaven chief executive Andrew Canavan said: “The club has a responsibility to the shareholders and fans to ensure it remains a vibrant going concern. The offer made to Lachlan was an offer that was the very top end of what the club could afford.

“We are losing tens of thousands of pounds in central distribution next year and although we have exciting plans to increase revenues along with improving the matchday experience, we cannot risk gambling money we do not have and spending over and above based on the gates we have got this season.

“Matchday income is the highest income stream that the club has, and we know that we must improve crowd numbers if we are to stand a chance of continuing to challenge for the top end of the Championship. I am as disappointed as every other fan that we have not been able to keep Lachlan and Louis at the LEL Arena. However, fans can rest assured that there is a lot of hard work is going on behind the scenes to find suitable replacements.”

Former Toulouse, Batley, and Featherstone half-back Louis Jouffret will return to play in France next season.

Whitehaven director Ashley Kilpatrick said: “Louis has been brilliant since we brought him over in the middle of the season. He added that extra spark that we needed at that time. Lachlan has been a revelation since we brought him over, both on and off the field. He completely bought into the ethos of the club.

“We wish both the best of luck in their careers. No doubt we will see them again down at the LEL Arena in the future.

“We did make Lachlan an offer to stay, a very good offer in fact. However clearly it wasn’t enough to keep him here. With Louis we have never had the chance to make him an offer as his agent informed us that he was returning to play in France next season.”