Gower keen to put one over on his old mentor
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Saturday 04 February 2012
The St Helens coach, Royce Simmons, will come across a familiar face he did not expect to see in rugby league again when they kick off their season today.
Saints are the first visitors to the newly rebranded London Broncos, who will be captained by one of their eight debutants, the former Australian Test scrum-half, Craig Gower.
"I brought Craig into first grade at Penrith at 17 and we've stayed in contact," Simmons said. "He's a real winner and one of the most competitive individuals I've ever worked with."
Gower is now coming into the twilight of a long career, during which he has also played rugby union for Italy.
Simmons believes he is typical of a recruitment policy that will make London more formidable this season. Apart from Gower, the Manly duo of Michael Robertson and Shane Rodney are also due to make their first appearances. "When you look at who they've signed, there's a lot of players who have been in big games. Maybe early in the season is a good time to meet them before they develop too many combinations."
Simmons has patterns of play of his own to develop, especially those involving his key new signing, Lance Hohaia. The New Zealand international can play either half-back position, full-back or hooker, so it will be intriguing to see how Saints will use him.
Simmons will be most reluctant to split the young pairing of Lee Gaskell and Jonny Lomax that performed so impressively last season.
Full-back is a likelier starting place for Hohaia, with the regular incumbent, Paul Wellens, struggling with an Achilles injury, but hoping to be fit to lead Saints out in their first match at their new stadium next weekend.
Salford christen theirs – at least as far as competitive action is concerned – with the visit of Castleford this evening. The City Reds need to average 8,000 – as opposed to less than 5,000 in their last season at The Willows – to break even at the Salford City Stadium, so they need to establish early that their new home is a place where they can both entertain and win.
The Australian imports Shannon McPherson and Joel Moon are among Salford's newcomers and both sides have a new coach – the Reds' Phil Veivers and Ian Millward for Cas.
Millward's return at this level, after a second stint at Leigh, can only enliven Super League. Much will depend, however, on whether Rangi Chase and Danny Orr can replicate their inspiring early form of 2011.
The South Wales Scorpions have pulled off a major coup by signing the former England stand-off Jamie Rooney. The Scorpions have also signed the former Penrith junior Rodney Peake.
John Kear, the coach of Batley, has called for a system of dual registration to allow players to turn out for their amateur clubs and for Championship sides.
Barbarians vs Samoa interrupted by sprinklers as fans criticise lack of Wi-Fi and poor seating at West Ham's Olympic Stadium
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger 'optimistic' of making signing, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Edinson Cavani linked
John Stones to Chelsea: Next season's bumper TV deal means clubs such as Everton can say 'no'
Chelsea 1 Crystal Palace 2 player ratings: Who was to blame for Chelsea's defeat? Did Pedro impress on his home debut? Sako and Ward star
Kevin De Bruyne: Why do Manchester City put such a high value on a player Chelsea rejected?
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 5 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs