Head coach Gary Thornton has confirmed his squad for Hunslet’s opening Betfred League 1 fixture of the season, at home to Workington Town on Sunday (9 May).
Thornton welcomes back young winger Kiedan Hartley, who has recovered from a rib injury sustained in last month’s pre-season victory over North Wales Crusaders.
He will also make use of his strong squad – and of dual registration arrangements with Featherstone Rovers and Halifax Panthers – by bringing in loan players to provide cover for a number of injuries.
Fullback Jimmy Watson will be out for six-to-eight weeks through a knee injury suffered in the second of the Parksiders’ friendlies, against Barrow Raiders. Also sidelined for Workington are centre Will Cooke (who sustained a leg injury in the Barrow game and is also expected to be unavailable for six weeks), captain Duane Straugheir and Lewis Wray.
“The club supported Jimmy by organising a scan, and the doctor is currently deciding whether an operation will be necessary,” said Thornton. “There’s massive swelling behind the knee and the doctor says it’s a very unusual Rugby League injury, more the type you see if someone’s been involved in a car crash.”
He continued: “Straff (ribs) and Lewis (ankle) should be fine for the following week’s fixture, at North Wales, but they won’t be ready for the Workington game and Niall Walker (hamstring) isn’t fit yet either after missing both of our friendlies.
“But we’ve got strength-in-depth and have plenty of resources to draw on. We’ve already got prop Sion Jones on a season-long loan from Halifax and he’s made a big impression, particularly with his powerful carries and strong defence. Jake Sweeting (Featherstone) is also in the squad and provides valuable cover at hooker, halfback and fullback. And the decision to play them in our pre-season games has paid off as they’re familiar with our structures.”
Centre Jack Norfolk, who is back at Hunslet from East Leeds and who played against Barrow, has also re-signed but will not be considered for selection for a week or two, until he reaches full fitness.
Hunslet’s squad for Sunday is: Kiedan Hartley, Tom Ashton, Matty Chrimes, Simon Brown, Dom Brambani, Jordan Andrade, Vila Halafihi, Harry Kidd, Brad Hey, Anthony (AJ) Boardman, Harvey Hallas, Nathan Conroy, Alex Rowe, Jy-Mel Coleman, Liam Copland, Aaron Jones-Bishop, Joe McClean, Jake Sweeting, Sion Jones.
The game, which is being played behind closed doors, is being streamed live through the Rugby Football League’s OurLeague programme and will therefore kick off at 2.00pm. OurLeague can be accessed by visiting https://www.rugby-league.com/livestream although the Parksiders, who were top of the table when last year’s lockdown struck, have confirmed free viewing access for sponsors and season ticket holders.