It seems the appointment of Wayne Bennett as England boss not only caught the rugby community league by surprise, but most of the England team. We hear of at least two NRL-based players who were spouting their faith and belief in Steve McNamara as a coach, backing him for reappointment, just days before Bennett’s hire was announced. There may be some nervous England internationals out there with Bennett renowned for the occasional left-field selection and being unafraid of mixing things up. Under the master coach no one will be assured of a spot. Bennett is a big fan of Adam Cuthbertson and the Leeds forward must be huge chance to play for England in the Four Nations.
Fun in France
One of our European spies tells us that the Catalans players have enjoyed quiet a bit of fun off the field despite back-to-back losses this year. The Dragons had a huge overhaul at the end of 2015 and it wil take some time for the new players to gel. But the reports of those hitting the pubs and bars frequently aren’t great. With party animal Willie Mason joining Catalans, things could get interesting in the south of France.
Still on Catalans and we hear that the job of head coach Laurent Frayssinous is safe, for now. There has been some speculation about his future after the Dragons’ finals campaign frittered away last year and their away form remained woeful. A difficult start to 2016 hasn’t helped. But despite several quality coaches on the market, including Ivan Cleary and Paul Rowley, we hear Frayssinous has the backing of the club and will be given time to turn the ship around. We hope he does.
Bob not building
Leigh are believed to have blocked the move of Bob Beswick to Wigan following the serious injury to Michael McIlorum. The Warriors need another hooker and Beswick, no longer a regular at Leigh with Micky Higham there, is an obvious choice as an ex-Wigan player. But word on the street is that the Centurions won’t be letting him go. It’s hard on the 31-year old who, we are told, appeared to be on the way out of Leigh at the start of the season. Looks likely he’s staying put at the Leigh Sports Village.
The Red Devils are still looking to strengthen their squad, but it appears Luke Burgess is unlikely to return home. They have other irons in the fire though. Tim Sheens has been casting his eyes over an ex-Manly player, not Burgess, but a former Sea Eagles junior who was a star in the Under-20s. This player has a European passport and would not take a visa spot, but for now it seems as though Sheens has passed on the former Silvertail and is still keeping his options open. This player may end up in the Championship.
Word comes to us of a non-Super League player who got the fright of his life recently when drug testers turned up unexpectedly at his club. This forward, we can’t name him, apparently ran into a post during the warm-up as he was preoccupied with the tests that awaited. Oh dear.
One of our informants tells us os a lower league club that has had a transfer embargo put on it so they can’t sign any new players. This cash-strapped outfit is in deep financial trouble, and also has its landlord looking to throw them out after unpaid rent. Just not good at all.
The Rochdale derby is set to place in the Challenge Cup this weekend when Rochdale Hornets take on Rochdale Mayfield. The Hornets, we are informed, are set to spring a surprise by giving ex-Mayfield player Jo Taira his debut against his old club. The Fijian joined the Hornets from Mayfield in the off-season and will get his first chance to impress against some familiar faces. Taira had a suspension hanging over from last season so the timing and opposition is coincidental for his first hit out.