Big year in store for Hunslet

Hunslet hope to build on last season’s impressive campaign as they prepare for the 2024 season with a new Coach and new hope.

A second place finish in the league campaign, including a 100% home record, was the Parksiders’ highest position for 10 years.  Unfortunately, a few injuries to key players saw them lose out in the play-offs.  Nevertheless, with the retention of the spine of the team the Club go into 2024 with plenty of optimism.

The biggest change came as Head Coach Alan Kilshaw left for Swinton and assistant Danny Burton for Leeds, but in came new head Coach Dean Muir, with experience at Keighley Cougars and West Bowling and plenty of praise around the game.

Departures are inevitable and the Parksiders said goodbye to Steve Crossley (Retirement), Sam Hallas (Bradford Bulls), Adam Ryder (Keighley Cougars), Joe and Olly Burton (Batley), Brad Wheeler (Amateur RL) and Jack Render (Rotherham RU), as well as other players moving on including Nathan Conroy, Sean Croston and Nathan Newbound.

But good news came early with the retention of Harvey Hallas and Josh Jordan-Roberts two of last year’s most consistent performers, and Jimmy Watson who takes the field for his 11th season bringing quality and leadership to the back line.

Lewis Wray, Liam Carr, Jordan Syme and Spencer Darley signed again bolstering the pack whilst Dan McGrath and Alfie Goddard will again bring pace to the flanks.

Although popular half-back Miles Lawford went back to Bradford Bulls before being sold to Wakefield Trinity his experienced half-back partner Matty Beharrell and loose-forward Michael Knowles signed on the line for another season to the delight of the supporters.

There was also a raft of familiar faces returning as Half-back Jack Mallinson, Hooker Cam Berry, Forward Jack Coventry and Back-rower Ethan O’Hanlon came back into the fold.

Dean Muir spent time at Keighley Cougars during their unbeaten 2022 campaign, and so brings some of that squad into his Hunslet team. Prop-Forward Toby Everrett should bring huge go forward, whilst Aaron Levy will bring skill and experience to the pack.

Keenan Dyer-Dixon is a player with unbelievable pace in the three-quarters, whilst Billy Gaylor (who has been handed the Club Captaincy) will lead with his performance on the field at hooker or in the halves.

The Centre’s were a place where Hunslet were strong last season, and with ex-Hull FC and London man Jude Ferreira and ex-Wakefield man Mac Walsh Hunslet should be very strong again this season. Both players have Super League experience and could become crowd favourites.

Another pair of important signings are Ross Whitmore and Brandan Wilkinson. Both players featured for Doncaster over the last few years at the top end of the division and were popular with the Dons faithful. Whitmore is a tricky hooker/half whilst Wilkinson a strong running forward.

If Hunslet are to be successful this year the squad needs to be deep, so forwards Aidan Scully and Rhys Davies (from Keighley and Salford respectively) were added and are already making a good impression in training.

On the youthful side Forward Nathan Carter and winger Ben Sheils signed from Castleford and Sheffield respectively are added, whilst Donald Kudangirana was recruited on the wing.

Having Coached at West Bowling Dean Muir gave an opportunity to Halfback Harry Williams who has been consistently lauded as a future star at the Bradford club. Muir thinks he could be successful at League 1 level and may partner with Iwan Orr (son of former Castleford Halfback Danny Orr) who joins from Leeds Academy.

With training well underway and the Captains announced – Billy Gaylor (Club), Jimmy Watson (Vice) and Harvey Hallas (Forwards) – the Hunslet support got an early Christmas present when winger Jack Render announced his return after a short spell at Rotherham RUFC.

The look of the squad looks well balanced and talented, but with Oldham spending big and Keighley Cougars in there it will be a tough league to get out of. The pre-season 1895 cup see’s Hunslet entertain Featherstone Rovers (28 January) and Batley Bulldogs (18 February) in what will be tough games.

Hunslet travel to Barrow for a friendly on 21 January 2024 and then sandwich Leeds (Friday 2 February, 7:30pm) in between the Featherstone and Batley games before kicking off their League 1 campaign at Newcastle on 17 March.

Discounted Tickets be purchased online by visiting TicketCo – Events Hunslet RLFC

Club memberships are available for next season and new kit is available online at hunsletrlfc.com

South Leeds Life will have full match reports of every Hunslet game this year.

 

Photo: Jack Render scoring against Rochdale Hornets last season. Credit: Paul Whitehurst

 

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