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RL Championship coaches welcome new structure

The Rugby League Championship kicks off on Friday when the Dewsbury Rams entertain the Sheffield Eagles.

And this season there's a huge incentive, because promotion to Super League is back on the agenda.

The League's new structure means that at the end of the regular season, the top four in the Championship will get the chance to play off against the bottom four in Super League for the right to play in the top flight next year.

The changes have been welcomed by the coaches of all eight Yorkshire clubs in the division.

Castleford coach hopes for new stadium

Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell has thrown his weight behind a move to a new stadium.

On Friday night high winds caused a wall to collapse at Castleford's Wheldon Road ground.

Powell, who today lined up alongside his team for the annual team photograph, believes the move is a must if his side is to compete in Super League:


Hull KR sign Gold Coast pair

Hull KR have signed Gold Coast Titans half-backs Albert Kelly and Maurice Blair as the replacements for departed overseas pair Travis Burns and Kris Keating.

New Hull KR signing Albert Blair Credit: Press Association

Both Kelly, 23, and Blair, who turned 30 on Thursday, were under contract with the Titans for another 12 months but were released to enable them to sign two-year deals with the Robins.

Their capture takes the club's tally of new signings to eight for the 2015 season as head coach Chris Chester rebuilds the side that failed to reach the First Utility Super League play-offs this year.

Burns was sold to St Helens while Keating was released by mutual consent after a disappointing first season in England.

"They're two very exciting players and we're really pleased to add them to our squad for next season," Chester said.

"They both have good kicking games, they're strong defenders and we are expecting Albert in particular to set the Super League on fire in the halves.

"We've done our homework on the pair of them and we are really confident they will be a good fit both for the club and the Super League competition.

"I'd still like to bring another half-back in as well as these two. The good thing about Maurice is that he can play left centre as well and he'll also be challenging for a spot in the team in that position."

Kelly, a former Australian schoolboy international, has scored 18 tries in 47 appearances for the Titans and Cronulla while Blair has made 99 NRL appearances for Penrith, Melbourne and the Titans.

Titans head coach Neil Henry said: "They were given a rare opportunity to play together as halves by Hull KR and they get the security of two-year deals.

"We feel we have good depth in the halves here so we agreed to allow Albert to take this opportunity in the Super League and, at 30, Maurice has the chance to extend his career which we are also happy to accommodate. We wish them both great success over there."

Anderson disappointed after Giants playoff exit

Huddersfield Head coach Paul Anderson was left bitterly disappointed after the Giants were knocked out of the playoffs by Catalan Dragons.

Hurting: Paul Anderson is disappointed after the Giants lost 18-16 to Catalans Credit: Press Association

Huddersfield were much improved from their 57-4 hammering at Wigan last week but it was an 11th defeat in 14 play-off ties for the Giants.

"It hurts more than last week because the year is over," Anderson said. "We saw an improvement in some areas and the scoreline wasn't as bad as last week.

"But it was a reflection of our year. We were good in patches. All year we have never strung 80 minutes together and it was the same tonight. We never turned the screw and it has been the tale of our year.

"I am massively disappointed about the season. We started round one with big expectation but consistency throughout the year cost us.

"It wasn't just week by week but within games.

"We have had inconsistencies within performance and individual performances throughout games. It ends up hurting you.

"We went into this game with every expectation of winning, going to St Helens and winning the competition. But it has gone.

"For the investment in this team and this club it's not good enough. We need to be better."


Hadley extends Hull contract

Hull FC forward Dean Hadley has signed a new contract that will keep him at the KC Stadium until the end of 2016.

The 22-year-old Hull-born back rower, who made his debut against Catalan Dragons last season, has established himself in Lee Radford's side this year, appearing in 13 of their last 19 matches.

"What Dean brings to training and what he has brought this year on the field has been immense," Radford said.

"And he has taken huge strides in his development, which is why we were keen to offer him this extension."

Bulls desperate to hit back - Diskin

Bradford Bulls logo

Bradford Bulls' caretaker coach Matt Diskin has promised his side will be "fired up" for tonight's clash with Hull KR.

Diskin has been left to pick up the pieces following the Bulls' crushing 46-18 defeat at Salford last Sunday and the subsequent sacking of head coach Francis Cummins and his long-serving assistant Lee St Hilaire.

Victory against the Robins is a must if Bradford are to keep alive their slender hopes of avoiding relegation from the First Utility Super League and Diskin believes the players are ready for the fight.

"We are smarting as a group and are desperate to respond," the former Leeds hooker said.

"With that in mind, I believe our supporters can expect to witness a fired-up Bulls team tonight. I think it goes without saying that we have only one aim."

Not surprisingly, Diskin has selected himself and, after expressing his dismay at the latest turn of events and agreeing reluctantly to step into the breach, he has thrown himself wholeheartedly into his first coaching experience.

Hardaker in homophobic comments probe

Zak Hardaker Credit: ITV Yorkshire

Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker is to be investigated over allegations that he made homophobic comments during the Rhinos' 24-6 Super League defeat at Warrington last Friday.

Hardaker, who was a member of England's 2013 World Cup squad, is alleged to have mouthed a homophobic reference towards referee James Child and the incident has been referred to the Rugby Football League's compliance department, which has begun an investigation.

Ablett handed two-match ban

Carl Ablett Credit: Press Association

Leeds Rhinos forward Carl Ablett will lose his ever-present record this season after being handed a two-match ban.

The second rower admitted kicking Warrington centre Joel Monaghan in the act of scoring during the Rhinos' 24-6 defeat at the Halliwell Jones Stadium last Friday.

Ablett, who has not missed a game since last June, will sit out Leeds' Tetley's Challenge Cup quarter-final against Leigh on Friday as well as the league game against Huddersfield on Thursday week.

Wakefield prop Richard Moore will miss his club's home game against London Broncos on Friday week after admitting a Grade B striking offence during his side's 20-12 defeat at Bradford last Sunday. He was given a one-match ban.

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