Cornwall have confirmed the signings of Malikhi Lloyd-Jones, Liam O’Callaghan and dual-code youngster Christian Bannister for 2024.
Lloyd-Jones and O’Callaghan have both joined the Choughs from London Skolars following the capital outfit’s withdrawal from the third tier ahead of the New Year. Between them, the pair made 66 appearances for the Skolars. 25 of those came this year as they lost all 18 of their league games.
Bannister meanwhile makes a code switch to link up with Cornwall having previously been with Championship rugby union side Coventry.
All three new recruits – announced on Christmas Eve – have penned one-year deals at The Memorial Ground, and will form part of Mike Abbott’s squad in 2024.
The Choughs have now announced a total of 17 new deals for the upcoming campaign, with seven of those coming in the week which led up to December 24.
Turkey international Errol Carter was the first of those announced in that seven-day period, followed by Nathan Cullen, Morgan Punchard, Harry Boots and the trio of Lloyd-Jones, O’Callaghan & Bannister.
League 1 club Cornwall make trio of signings for 2024 including dual-code young gun Christian Bannister
Prop Lloyd-Jones – who has Jamaican heritage – has also previously donned a shirt for Hemel Stags, Gloucestershire All Golds and Coventry Bears (now Midlands Hurricanes).
He told the Choughs’ club website: “Cornwall are a well-drilled and well-coached side. Every player sings off the same hymn sheet, which bodes well for a good environment to play rugby in.
“From the outside, Cornwall’s set up is impressive and I love the way the fans helped the players feed off their enthusiasm. I feel like I can make a difference to Cornwall, by adding some grunt up front.”
Ireland A international O’Callaghan is a product of the London Broncos academy system, and has also played for Hemel Stags as well as Oxford, able to slot in at loose and as a hooker.
The 29-year-old said: I always thought that playing against Cornwall, especially away from home, was really difficult as an opposing player. I want to play for a club that is well-supported and gets good crowds.
“As a player from the south, who has always played for expansion clubs, I now exactly what Cornwall are trying to achieve and they have made real progress in two seasons. I feel like I know the game and have a decent rugby league brain.”
Cornwall’s new dual-code young gun Christian Bannister ‘has all the attributes to play rugby league’
Having joined from rugby union outfit Coventry, Bannister will feature in the forward pack for Cornwall next year. The Birmingham-born ace has also previously featured for National League outfit Bournville in the 15-man code.
The 19-year-old said: “I have switched to rugby league because I think it suits my style of play. It is also a case of trying something different for me personally.
“I had always wanted to give league a go, but it was a case of seeing where I went within rugby union first. I have finally taken a step back from union to push myself into playing rugby league and having a real crack at it with Cornwall.
“I have some high hopes and aspirations for the 2024 season to regularly make the squad and play in League 1.
“Because I have been in and around a decent standard of rugby union, I hope I can help keep driving forward the very high standards that the team have worked towards in the previous two years.”
Cornwall head coach Abbott – who led the Choughs to a 9th-place finish in 2023, added: “Christian has come to us as someone with a good pedigree in rugby union.
“By his own admission, and it was clear once he had taken part in a couple of training sessions, he has all the attributes to play rugby league.
“We are looking forward to seeing how he progresses during pre-season and then pushes to be regularly involved with the squad in 2024.”