Rochdale sign Stephen Bannister

Championship 1 side Rochdale have signed former St Helens, Salford and Widnes back-rower Stephen Bannister.

Bannister, 24, has been playing in France for Avignon since being released by Halifax at the end of last season, and Hornets coach John Stankevitch has now added him to his squad.

Stankevitch said: “I’ve coached Steve before at Widnes and he’s a pretty good player. I think it’s fair to say he has never utilised his potential, and I’ve admitted as much to him.

“But he’s come to us really focused and he wants to challenge himself, and he wants to play Super League again, and I think that’s a genuine possibility.”

The much-travelled Bannister was a product of the St Helens academy, and spent time on loan at Whitehaven and Harlequins, before making a permanent switch to Salford.

He then went on to sign for Widnes, where a broken ankle hampered his progress, before leaving to join Halifax, with whom he won the 2010 Championship Grand Final.

Stankevitch added: “It could go one or two ways for us really. We could have Steve for a couple of weeks, but that’s the risk we take. To be honest, it’s a good thing for us, because like with Michael Ostick last season, we have a really good player playing at the top of his game to improve himself.”

Bannister is likely to get a run out in one of Rochdale’s two friendlies this weekend. Stankevitch will split his first team with half taking on Rochdale Mayfield on Saturday, and the other half taking on North Wales Crusaders on Sunday, with youngsters from the club’s growing under 23 set-up plugging the gaps.

Hornets then take on Championship side Keighley next weekend, before starting their Northern Rail Cup campaign the following week.

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