After a disappointing season last year, Hunslet RLFC supporters came to the pre-Christmas unveiling of the new home shirt on Thursday (19 December 2019) and to meet Gary Thornton’s squad for 2020 in an optimistic mood.
The Phoenix Bar was filled with supporters anticipating a bright future after new investors and a new hybrid model of running the club between supporters and sponsors was unveiled.
Coach Gary Thornton has had to assemble a squad with a 25% budget cut this season as lower league clubs tighten their belts, but a younger and possibly hungrier squad has been assembled and was introduced to the fans.
The main core of the team is still in place, but some familiar faces have left or retired and some new exciting players have come in.
Popular Full-back Jimmy Watson has re-signed for a 7th season, as has hooker Jack Lee, captain Duane Straugheir, free scoring centre Ben Heaton, Winger Tom Ashton, Forwards Zach Braham and Jordan Andrade, tough running forward Josh Tonks and hooker Vila Halafihi.
Fans’ favourite Michael Haley has retired along with Adam Robinson, Mike Emmett and top try scorer Gareth Potts. Kicker Joe Sanderson has moved away to play in Australia, whilst both Ryan Wright and Dan Hawksworth have signed for Keighley, and Nathan Chappell was not retained.
Although this year’s squad is younger there will be more experience at half back with big kicking Simon Brown coming back onboard along with former Sheffield and Batley half back Dominic Brambani.
Hunslet have also gone local, signing promising Hunslet Club Parkside half back Danny Rowse.
Winger Matty Chrimes has joined from Doncaster along with Bradford hooker Lochlan McGill. Former York and Newcastle kicker Jack Aldous makes a return to South Leeds, whilst the pace of former Leeds Rhino’s Under 16 captain Kieden Hartley will be an asset.
Other names joining the squad are Zach Johnson, Harry Kidd, Ben Markland, Jack Ray and Danny King.
Coach Gary Thornton stressed the importance of good home form this season after a string of embarrassing defeats at the South Leeds Stadium. The away form was good, but we need to turn the South Leeds Stadium into a fortress and make it a place teams fear to visit.
Hunslet’s future still rests with its supporters and the club now has a wider range of membership packages available for supporters to get behind the club from £15 a year to £50 a month, with various perks and advantages. Find out the full details of membership packages here.
Hunslet’s preseason kicks off at 3pm on Sunday 5 January 2020, when the club hosts Bradford Bulls at South Leeds Stadium.