Featherstone Rovers: Walton ready to lead Fev charge for top-four slot

Jason Walton
Jason Walton
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NEW FEATHERSTONE Rovers signing Jason Walton reckons he has fallen on his feet following the collapse of Bradford Bulls.

Walton signed for Bradford from Wakefield Trinity at the end of last season, but became a free-agent when the club ceased training eight days ago.

He was quickly snapped up by Rovers and made his first appearance for them in the 52-6 pre-season win over Hunslet last Sunday.

The move happened quickly and Walton revealed he had been expecting to stay at Bulls right up until the club closed, but says he had to take up Rovers’ offer to secure his and his family’s future.

“I wasn’t speaking to anyone (other clubs) at all before we went into liquidation,” Walton said.

“Everyone was positive at Bradford, they were all saying we were going to be all right.

“I thought I’d be staying there – this is the day before liquidation.

“I was thinking about playing in the centres, where’s he (coach Rohan Smith) going to play me?

“It was really positive, then the day after that they got liquidated.

“I had to jump ship because I have to look after my family, I have got a mortgage.”

Walton revealed he spoke to Rovers last year, but opted to join Bulls because he wanted to stay full-time.

“They were a great set of lads there and I was loving every minute of it,” he said of the defunct former Super League champions.

“Even when everyone was down it was still a bit upbeat.

“We all got through training, but there was only so much you could do when you know you’re not going to get paid.”

Walton trained with Bulls through November and on his own the following month when the players “went on strike” after the club entered administration.

With Rovers’ opening Kingstone Press Championship fixture, at Halifax, less than a month away Walton is confident he is up to speed with his fitness and was happy with his first match in blue and white.

“I only started at Rovers last Thursday,” he said.

“They have welcomed me really well and they are a good set of lads.

“I know a few of the lads from playing against them and I thought it (last Sunday’s game) went well considering I’d only had two days’ training.”

The RFL are considering four bids to reform Bradford in time for the new season.

With any new club in the city facing a 12-point deduction, one of Rovers’ main rivals for a top-four spot in the Championship already seems to be out of the running.

That will leave relegated Hull KR and former Super League club London Broncos as the division’s most fancied sides, but Walton reckons Rovers can repeat what they did last season and secure a place in the middle-eights Qualifiers.

“With the squad we’ve got, we can,” he said.

“It is one of the best I’ve seen in the Championship.

“I think we’ll do really well.”

Wakefield were Walton’s second shot at the big time following a spell with Salford. The ex-Batley man has 41 Super League appearances to his credit, but insisted: “I am 26 now and I just want to enjoy my rugby again.

“If I am really enjoying it here I am happy to stay.”