2018 SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENTS
13 October 2017
MIKE BUTT SIGNS FOR 2018 SEASON
The club is thrilled to announce that winger Mike Butt has signed terms which will keep him at Swinton for next season.
Since joining the Lions in 2015 from university Rugby League, Mike has developed into one of the Championship’s most feared wingers, and last season he ended the campaign as the Lions’ leading scorer with 19 tries. This impressive effort also gained him a place amongst the whole division’s top seven try scorers. Mike’s try scoring exploits also earned him the accolade of Swinton’s Young Player of the Year Award for 2017.
Head Coach Stuart Littler said, “Mike has been another very consistent performer for us and he has now confirmed his value as an excellent Championship winger.”
“The scope for Mike’s further development is tremendous, particularly in view of his commitment and attitude. Mike loves the club and I’m delighted that he’s decided to stay on board with us. He has a very bright future in the game.”
SKIPPER ANDY BRACEK SIGNS FOR 2018 SEASON
The 30-year-old team captain had an outstanding campaign in 2017, leading from the front and appearing in every single one of our 33 fixtures. Andy’s leadership qualities really shone during the tense last few weeks of the season, when the Lions achieved crucial wins over Bradford, Dewsbury and Oldham.
Andy was recently awarded the Swinton ‘Man of Steel’ award as well as both the Players’ Player and the Coaches’ Player of the Year at the End of Season Presentation Night, underlining the respect that he has of the players, staff and officials.
After securing his skipper’s signature for next year, Head Coach Stuart Littler said, “I am thrilled that the club has agreed a new contract with Andy, who was the coaching staffs’ Player of the Year. Andy has led from the front this year in all aspects and he has really bought into our vision for the future of the club. His ability and experience speaks for itself and I am delighted that he has decided to stay on with us.”
On behalf of the Board the Lions’ Chairman Andy Mazey added, “We are absolutely delighted that Andy very quickly agreed terms for next year. He is a top Championship forward and could have gone to other clubs. We are trying to build an exciting future at Swinton and it’s great to see one of our top players buying into that vision.”
THORNLEY, SARSFIELD, LLOYD AND HANKINSON CONFIRMED FOR 2018
The club is also pleased to announce that the first names on the Swinton Lions squad sheet for 2018 are those players with pre-existing two-year deals.
Andy Thornley started the season as team captain, but unfortunately his campaign came to an end at Easter following a serious knee injury. Up until then he’d put in some terrific performances, including the scoring of a hat-trick of tries against Bradford Bulls at Heywood Road.
‘Chest’ expects to be raring to go early in the New Year, and Head Coach Stuart Littler can’t wait to have him back. Stuart said, “Andy is our club captain and he brings consistent positive values both on and off the field. Andy has helped me a lot on a personal level since I took on the coaching role following his unfortunate injury. Next year we hope to get the best out of Andy and like Matt Sarsfield it will be like having a new squad member. It’s great that Andy himself wants to continue his career journey with Swinton Lions.”
Matt Sarsfield arrived early last year from Leigh as arguably our marquee signing. But sadly he was injured in the quagmire at Dewsbury in only our second outing – a game which should never have taken place given the atrocious conditions – and conditions which undoubtedly caused Matt’s injury.
The 26-year-old has now fully recovered from his knee injury and it will be like having a new player, when the second-rower takes to the field at the start of the 2018 season.
Head Coach Stuart Littler said, “Matt has been unlucky with injuries in the last couple of seasons, but he will be fully fit come the start of the new season. He will add tremendous ability and experience to our squad. I am looking forward to working with Matt and getting the best out of him and there’s no doubt he’ll improve our team. It will be like having a brand new signing, and I know that Matt will want to give everything to prove his value to his team mates next season. For me personally he doesn’t need to prove that he is already as good a back-rower as any in the Championship.”
Meanwhile ex-Wigan man Rhodri Lloyd will be embarking on his fourth season with the Lions during 2018, having scored four tries in 22 appearances last term.
It caps off a great week for the proud Welshman who has just been named in his country’s 24 man squad for the forthcoming World Cup down under, which was something alluded to by his coach Stuart Littler.
“Rhodri is an international footballer and I know he’ll be proud to represent Swinton at the World Cup. At the Lions he is part of our leadership group and I’m delighted that he’s exercised his contract extension with us. I’m convinced that over the next couple of years Rhodri will continue to develop into an outstanding performer in the Championship. All the coaching staff love working with him and it’s great to have him on board for 2018.”
Centre Chris Hankinson produced some outstanding performances during the Lions’ crucial run-in during the Super 8s, and he’ll be looking to kick on again during 2018.
The former Barrow and Leigh strong running centre played 31 times for Swinton last season, scoring 8 tries and 32 goals in the process.
Head Coach Stuart Littler said, “Chris Hankinson has the ability to become one of the best centres in the division. Chris has already shown that he has what it takes to compete in the Championship, and as a former centre myself I now want to help Chris develop his game so that he fully maximises his potential.”
CONFIRMED 2018 SQUAD MEMBERS Andy Bracek, Mike Butt, Chris Hankinson, Rhodri Lloyd, Matt Sarsfield, Andy Thornley.
Further announcements on the 2018 squad will be made in the following days. Check back to this page for updates.