Featherstone Rovers ready to pay the Pryce for big names

Danny Brough.
Danny Brough.
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GRAND FINAL and Challenge Cup winner Leon Pryce has been confirmed as a major target for Featherstone Rovers as they step up their bid for Super League.

Majority shareholder Feisal Nahaboo said Rovers have “tabled a big offer” to the ex-Bradford Bulls, St Helens and Great Britain back, whose Catalan Dragons contract expires at the end of this year.

“According to his agent we are in the front-running, but Leon Pryce has not made a decision,” said Nahaboo, who described Rovers’ push for Super League as a “genuine and serious movement”.

Nahaboo said Rovers’ enquiry to Huddersfield Giants for star trio Eorl Crabtree, Brett Ferres and Danny Brough – which has been turned down – was genuine and has led to a good relationship developing between the clubs.

“They know we are serious,” Nahaboo said. “As a result we believe a marquee player will come across from Huddersfield Giants to Featherstone for next year.

“Huddersfield have been very, very supportive to Huddersfield’s ambitions, as have Hull and Wakefield.”

Hull’s ex-Wakefield and Leeds forward Jay Pitts has been offered and is expected to sign a two-year contract beginning next season, Nahaboo said.

He said Rovers are keen to add Pitts to their squad this term, if Bradford Bulls agree to release him from his current loan deal.

Wakefield’s Kyle Trout – who has been playing for Rovers on dual-registration – is expected to sign until 2017 and Rovers have also held talks with another Wildcats forward Chris Annakin, though he is currently serving a five-game ban.

Nahaboo said Rovers are in discussions with Jason Crookes, who is currently on-loan from Hull, about a long-term deal and Liam Kent – another Hull loan player – will begin a two-year contract next season, providing he impresses this term.

Harry Siejka – who is on loan from Wakefield – is “playing for a contract for next year” and Nahaboo confirmed Wildcats’ Jarrod Sammut is expected to feature on dual-registration in Sunday’s home game against North Wales Crusaders.

The majority of the current squad are signed up for next season, when Rovers will go full-time, but Steve Crossley and Ben Helliwell have agreed moves to other clubs.

Despite the transfer activity, Nahaboo said Rovers have actually reduced their wage bill by trimming their squad – including releasing Jamel Chisholm, Colton Roche, Josh Sunley and Tommy Saxton – and loaning out Liam Walmsley, Keegan Hirst and Kyle Briggs, as well as using loan players and others on dual-registration.

He said previous boss John Bastian’s record in charge was not acceptable and the club were disappointed with his signings, but stressed new coach Andy Hay was their first-choice and will be given time to put plans into place, providing he secures a top-two finish this year.

“We are asking for supporters’ patience,” Nahaboo said. “We have got a settled squad now, which is pretty much in place for this season and the next.

“The players are very much behind Andy Hay, so give him some time. The team can’t gel straight away, but the reason we have made fundamental changes in mid-season is so we are gelled and ready for the first game of next season.”

Meanwhile, Rovers remain second in the Kingstone Press Championship despite not having won in their last two games.

The 22-22 home draw with Doncaster was followed by a 20-18 loss at Workington Town two days ago and Hay admitted his side have problems they need to solve.

It was Hay’s first defeat as Rovers boss and he said: “It was disappointing. We let three tries in, which were from three individual errors and that seems to be the theme of the last few weeks.

“We have got to fix up some individual stuff, but defensively as a unit we smashed them all over the field.

“But the scoreboard is what counts. They had a good game plan to slow the game down at every chance and it worked for them.

“Credit to them, they did what they needed to do to get the three points and it has highlighted some issues we’ve had over the last two or three weeks.

“We have tried to fix them up in training, it is looking quite good in training, but when we get to a game we are not clicking.”

Hay said changes are likely when Rovers face North Wales this weekend.

“We will get back to work this week and we’ll look at a different side for Sunday,” he said. “We need to shift some players around a bit in our squad and get the best out of the team.”

Three injuries to key players added to Rovers’ woes during their defeat in Cumbria.

Hay said: “Andy Ellis got a pretty bad cut on an eye after about 25 minutes and could not take part in the rest of the game. Jamie Cording got a knee injury after about 15 minutes and Matty Dale injured his shoulder.

“He went back on, but he couldn’t carry on and we had to bring him off again. We got some bumps and bruises as well, but that is three major concerns going into this week.”

Andy Bostock

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