By Trevor Watson
DEWSBURY Rams have moved quickly to solve a potential hooking crisis by signing talented Leeds Rhinos’ youngster Liam Hood on dual registration.
Hood could be in the squad for the Co-operative Championship game against Hunslet Hawks at Tetley’s Stadium on Sunday (3pm) but may be needed by the Rhinos if Rob Burrow is unfit to face Catalans tonight.
He is regarded as a hot prospect who has impressed in Super League and is a great signing. He comes on the understanding he will only be recalled for first team duty.
Coach Warren Jowitt made his move after two of his No9s were injured in London last Sunday. With Luke Blake already on the sidelines with a knee problem, he started at the Broncos with Craig Cook, who suffered medial ligament damage and is out for two or three weeks.
Matthew Tebb came on and impressed but he suffered a broken hand and will also be out for a few weeks.
Jowitt remarked: “Not so long ago we had four players available for hooker, suddenly we were left with only George Flanagan.
“Liam Hood has a very good reputation, he is quick and smart and just the tonic we need. He should give us a real lift as well as learning his trade in the Championship.”
Dewsbury’s squad has also been reduced by the fact loan back row man Ben Bolger has been recalled by London Broncos after two appearances with the Rams this time.
This made the fact second row man Rob Spicer got another game under his belt last Sunday all the more important as he works his way back to full match fitness.
Ryan Esders is fit to return on Sunday and fellow centre Ayden Faal could be back after his worrying injury at Batley, provided he has passed all the requisite tests following whiplash and concussion. It was hoped Dwayne Barker would return but this is unlikely and he may well need another week.
Jowitt was not deterred by the size of the defeat in the Challenge Cup in London. He said: “In many ways the game served a purpose for us. The way all the players performed was a great credit to them. It was a young and mainly inexperienced side but they let no one down and afterwards were deservedly in good spirits.
“The injuries affected us during the game and we had to re-shuffle but Jonathan Schofield came on and did really well. Beforehand Ben Jones had ankle and groin problems and Steve Crossley wasn’t fully fit. I would have liked to have left both of them out but we didn’t have the cover so Steve started and played about 35 minutes before he had to come off. Hopefully he will be available for Sunday.”
There was also a first start for Cain Southernwood, who played at scrum-half and did well, despite the difficult circumstances, operating in a team on the back foot so often.
Jowitt added: “This is the business part of the season. I’m very keen for us to make the play-offs and it is essential we pick up points from every game, which we have done so far. Hunslet are playing with confidence after a good win over York and, apparently, were unlucky to lose in the cup to Batley. We have to be on our toes.”
The Hawks are coached by former Rams’ favourite Barry Eaton and have former Dewsbury players such as Luke Haigh, who recently played his 100th game for Hunslet, Danny Ratcliffe, who is injured, John Oakes and Ryan Smith as well as former Thornhill amateur David March, who is still a fine craftsman.