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On The Pitch

Sheens offers update on recruitment drive

Head coach Tim Sheens has provided supporters with an update on recruitment and pre-season preparations ahead of the first team squad’s return to training this week.

Pre-season training officially gets underway at KCOM Craven Park tomorrow morning when several players report to the club’s coaching staff, with the majority of the squad then due to return on Friday as preparations for Betfred Super League gather pace.

The club’s quartet of players on international duty with Scotland in the World Cup will be delayed in returning to Rovers, whilst new signing Danny McGuire will link up with his new teammates later this month after steering his Leeds Rhinos side to victory in the Grand Final, but fellow new arrivals Tommy Lee, Jordan Walne, Will Dagger and Connor Williams are all ready to go.

With five additions already in place for 2018, Sheens has now given an update to supporters on his progress Down Under as he looks to further add to his squad for next season.

“Our roster is strong as it stands right now and there’s not been a lot of movement from overseas across the rest of the competition. Leigh have been signing people because they’ve had all of their quota spots and salary cap to play with, but we’ve get a lot less room to manoeuvre in both of those areas so it’s important we find the right additions.

“We’ve already got some outstanding overseas players at the club, the likes of Mose Masoe, Justin Carney and so on, not to mention a senior player in Danny McGuire coming in, so we’re prepared to sit tight and be patient but there’s plenty of progress being made behind the scenes.

“We’ve got a number of options based on what our priorities will be, but at the moment it’s the silly season in terms of recruitment. There’s a couple of so-called sources here in Australia who are well connected with the agents which explains a lot of the stories that have been circulating, not just about us but other clubs as well.

“I have spoken to virtually every agent whilst I’ve been over here about the players on their roster and the options moving forward. If we revealed the full list of players we’ve had conversations about to the supporters, they’d be astounded, but it is only conversations in a lot of cases. I know there’s a lot of rumours out there but we need to be patient before moving when the time is right.

“I’m happy with how the squad is shaping up but my message to the supporters would be not to believe everything you’re reading in the papers. We will have new players coming into the club but don’t believe anything until you read it on the club’s website.”

Whilst Sheens continues to lead on recruitment in Australia, where he will be shortly joined by chairman Neil Hudgell for the World Cup, preparations for 2018 are continuing at home with assistant coaches James Webster and David Hodgson set to oversee on-field training when pre-season starts tomorrow.

This will be complemented by Head of Athletic Performance Tom Clough and Head of Strength and Conditioning Shane Carney, who will take charge of physical preparations and overall scheduling throughout the winter.

Sheens added: “Now that we’re in Super League, there’s going to be a lift in intensity. That will come naturally because the coaching staff, the players and the club are revving up for more intense games.

“Building that intensity will be the theme of pre-season for us to prepare for next year but we’re in a good position. Injuries are inevitable in Super League with it being a stronger competition with shorter turnarounds, so the depth of your squad is key.

“That’s something we’ve been very conscious of in terms of bringing people into the club to give us that depth. Having two senior guys in Shaun Lunt and Tommy Lee battling it out at hooker is just one example of what you need at this level, particularly in key areas.

“We’ve already put together a strong squad with some good cover in certain positions but we’re certainly looking to strengthen further before the start of the season.”

Photo: Sheens offers update on recruitment drive