Rovers look set to bounce back at earliest opportunity
Tim Sheens brings his new look Hull Kingston Rovers side to Headingley Carnegie this Friday for Ryan Hall’s testimonial game and here we take a look at the 2017 Robins.
Hull KR could not be accused of wallowing in the desperation of relegation following last year’s cruel last gasp home loss to Salford Red Devils in the Million Pound Game. Instead, Rovers have set about assembling a squad to challenge the best the Championship has to offer and fight for a place back at the top table.
A fortnight ago, they defeated a young Hull FC side at the KCOM Stadium and the chance to take on the Rhinos on Friday will be an opportunity to show the progress they have made.
As well as Jamie Peacock in the backroom team, Hull KR have strengthened their Rhinos connections in the squad. 2012 Grand Final winner Shaun Lunt will skipper the team this season with Chris Clarkson, Thomas Minns and Robbie Mulhern all remaining loyal to the Robins after relegation.
They are joined by prop Nick Scruton, a 2008 Grand Final winner with the Rhinos having emerged through the club’s academy. The former Leeds, Hull, Wakefield and Bradford forward is an ex-England international with over 250 first team appearances to his name in the top flight.
Having initially signed for the club earlier last season, Scruton has committed to the Robins despite the drop to the Kingstone Press Championship.
At the other end of the scale in terms of experience is Univeristy of Leeds prop George Milton. The prop, who was Doncaster’s Forward of the Year last season, joined Hull KR from Doncaster on a two-year contract. A former England Academy international, the 21-year-old came through the ranks at Leeds.
Rovers have also bolstered their squad with three signings from Bradford Bulls. The most recent of those was young Australian Kieren Moss, who signed a one-year contract.
Moss, 23, spent the second half of last season at Bradford, scoring 13 tries in 16 games. Before that he played for Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels in his native Australia.
Moss, who can play at full-back, on the wing or in the halves, has a British passport so will not count as one of the club’s non-federation trained players.
He will team up again with Danny Addy and Mitch Clark. Addy is a versatile Scotland international able to play across a number of positions but predominantly loose forward or stand-off. A key member of the Bradford side for a number of years, the 25-year-old has racked up over 150 first team appearances and is also an accomplished goal-kicker.
Born in Pontefract but raised in New Zealand, 23-year-old Clark, whose father Trevor played for Leeds, is a former Junior Kiwis international who followed in his father’s footsteps by playing for the Bulls. A powerful prop forward previously with Doncaster, he came through the ranks at Penrith Panthers in the NRL and scored a try in the under-20s Holden Cup Final in 2013.
Hull KR have also brought in Super League experience too. Half back Jamie Ellis has joined on a season-long loan from Huddersfield Giants.
A former St Helens academy graduate, Ellis has racked up over 100 first team appearances during a career with Super League clubs Hull FC, Castleford Tigers and the Giants, and was a stand-out performer for Leigh Centurions in his only season in the Kingstone Press Championship in 2011 when he was named Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year.
Also a previous top try-scorer in the division, Ellis has gone on to be a first team regular in Super League and will be tasked with helping to guide the Robins around the field next season.
Also joining on loan is Hull FC half back Jordan Abdull. He was once on the books at the Robins as a junior, and has switched back across to the East of the city.
A stand-off or loose forward by trade, the 20-year-old is a young pivot with Super League experience under his belt at Hull and he has also featured in the Kingstone Press Championship whilst on loan at Featherstone.
The recently clash with Hull FC saw the vastly experienced David Hodgson come out of retirement. A former Great Britain international who scored 184 tries in 366 appearances for five Super League clubs during his career, Hodgson remained at the club as an assistant coach after hanging up his boots in 2014 and has been training with the first team throughout pre-season.
The 35-year-old, who oversees the outside backs as part of his coaching duties at Rovers, will provide cover to long-term absentees Matty Marsh and Joe Wardill. Hodgson, who will wear squad number 31, will continue to be available for selection throughout 2017 whilst continuing with his coaching role at the club.
Australian speedster Adam Quinlan recently returned to the UK to pen a two-year contract at the Lightstream Stadium.
A quick and elusive full back who can also play in the halves, Quinlan boasts NRL experience with St George and was part of the Illawarra Cutters side which won last season’s Intrust Super Championship.
The 24-year-old has been a stand-out performer in reserve grade Down Under, also previously playing alongside the club’s fellow new recruit Jake Butler-Fleming at the Wentworthville Magpies, and ran in six tries during 11 Super League appearances for St Helens during a short spell at the club in 2015.
A proven try-scorer and creative threat when linking into the attacking line from full back, Quinlan is set to play a major role in the Rovers’ quest for an immediate return to Super League.
24-year-old outside back Butler-Fleming played his junior rugby for Penrith Panthers.
Another former Panther is Australian centre Andrew Heffernan. The exciting 21-year-old was tipped for the top whilst coming through the junior ranks at Canberra Raiders, but has found NRL opportunities hard to come by in a star-studded backline since joining the Panthers and will now head to the Lightstream Stadium in search of regular game time.
A creative talent with ball in hand or off the boot, Heffernan is a versatile playmaker who can also play in the halves or at full back, but is expected to feature more regularly at centre for the Robins after being identified by head coach Tim Sheens.
Standing at 6ft and weighing around 15 stone, Heffernan has the abilities to add considerable strike power to the Rovers side and was a stand-out performer Down Under at Under-20s level and in the Intrust Super Premiership, the reserve grade competition to the NRL.
Tickets for Ryan Hall's testimonial game this Friday start from just £15 for adults and £5 for juniors, call 0371 423 1315 or book online 24 hours a day at www.therhinos.co.uk/buytickets