Finally rugby league in London won’t have to put up with its ugly nick name, Harlequins.
Admittedly the change from London to Harlequins in 2006 saved the club from extinction, but the partnership between the league and union clubs didn’t last before Quins RU were happy for the rugby league side to stump up the cash for a tenancy.
But all change is afoot for the new London Broncos rebrand. Originally the same club that changed it’s name six years ago, the rebrand should see London unlock the capital’s fan base from a new prospective. CEO Gus Mackay joined the club at the start of 2011, and has done a fantastic job behind the scenes to put the club into a position where it can generate it’s own brand and identity.
On the field coach Rob Powell will be disappointed with the way his side collapsed after only five games. Having gone into the season as outsiders, nobody expected Quins to reach the dizzy heights of first place after three consecutive wins. Having disposed of Saints, Quins lost to Huddersfield but backed up their loss with a ten point win over Leeds. Therefore when they met title contenders Warrington, an 82-6 loss was far from expected, especially as Quins scored the first try of the game.
It all went downhill for Quins, picking up only three wins in the league and cup thereafter. But the early signs were good, and if Powell can once again unlock the secret that kept the London side in the upper echelons of Super League, they may challenge for a play off spot.
Key man: Craig Gower
A veteran playmaker after having spent a large portion of his playing career with Penrith. He led the Panthers to only their second Premiership win in 2003. He is an influential stand off with years of experience having played in Grand Finals and Kangaroo tours. He left Penrith in 2007 to play rugby union in Italy. Gower qualifies for the Italian side through his grandfather’s heritage, and played for Italy in the Six Nations after signing for French side Aviron Bayonnais. However as his contract expired with the French club, Gower made a return to rugby league with the newly rebranded Broncos.
One-to-watch: Olsi Krasniqi
The son of an Albanian wrestler, Krasniqi is fairly known having made his debut in 2010 against Crusaders. In that 50-22 win he scored a debut try and was a stand out performer on Sky television. Krasniqi is a fiery impact player, and mostly comes off the bench to provide the team with a fresh pair of powerful legs. He is defiantly a player to watch in the future as he tries to establish himself in the squad.
Transfers In: Mark Bryant (Crusaders RL), Liam Colbon (Hull KR), Matt Cook (Hull KR), Craig Gower (Bayonne RU), Jarrad Hickey (Wakefield), Antonio Kaufusi (Newcastle), Julien Rinaldi (Wakefield), Michael Robertson (Manly), Shane Rodney (Manly), Michael Witt (Crusaders RL)
Transfers Out: Luke Gale (Bradford), Andy Ellis (Wakefield), Oliver Wilkes (Wakefield), Nick Kouparitsas (Released), Rob Purdham (Retired), Luke Ambler (Leeds, loan spell), Danny Ward (Released), David Williams (Released), Mark Calderwod (Released), Jack Latus (Released), Karl Pryce (Released), Mark Burnett (Hull FC)
Prediction: Craig Gower could lead them to challenge for a play off place but will fall short, 11th.
Super League Grand Final Odds: 80/1 (12th)
League Leaders Odds: 100/1 (12th)
Challenge Cup Odds: 66/1 (11th)
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Squad: Chris Bailey, Ben Bolger, Lamont Bryan, Mark Bryant, Omari Caro, Tony Clubb, Liam Colbon, Matt Cook, Keiron Dixon, Luke Dorn, Jason Golden, Craig Gower, Jarrad Hickey, David Howell, Antonio Kaufusi, Olsi Krasniqi, Chris Melling, Jamie O’Callaghan, Chad Randall, Julien Rinaldi, Michael Robertson, Shane Rodney, Dan Sarginson, Karl Temata, Rob Thomas, Michael Witt.