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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

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Clarke eager for Woods reunion

NEW Whitehaven recruit Rhys Clarke can’t wait to again work with Dave Woods after being signed by the coach for a third time.

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New recruit: Haven newcomer Rhys Clarke on the ball for his previous club York City Knights against Keighley Cougars

The Geordie was first recruited by Woods at 16 for home-town club Gateshead Thunder and then later when the Aussie moved to York City Knights.

And on Tuesday night he penned a deal with Whitehaven that will see him join the squad for the 2013 campaign.

“I’ve never played as well as I have under him,” said the 21-year-old. “He’s a really good man-manager and gets the best out of his players. I have a lot of respect for him, and I think he has the same respect for me.

“Whitehaven are a massive club with a good fan base, and everyone has heard of them. There are a lot of players to learn from and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Clarke made his Thunder debut at 17, playing 15 times in his first season before cementing a regular place the next year.

He went on to sign for York ahead of the 2011 season and played 22 times that year, scoring four tries.

A shoulder injury delayed his start to the City Knights’ Championship campaign this year, and a dislocated and broken wrist brought an early end to it.

But in between he made 17 appearances, scoring three tries. And he is looking forward to staying in the second tier, which he warned is a step up.

“It’s no more physical but it is a bit faster and skill levels are better. You get smarter players in that league,” he added.

Woods believes Clarke has every chance for competing for a place in Haven’s pack.

“He loves to mix it up, and it’s good to have players who will put pressure on each other,” the coach said. “He can play 13 or in the back-row and has even had a couple of games at half-back. He can’t wait to get stuck in.”

Prop Paul Cullnean, one of two Haven players in the Championship One All-Stars team, has re-signed for next season.

“He has experience and will help some of the younger blokes,” said Woods.

Haven Vice Presidents’ 2013 shirt draw has swelled the group’s coffers with 56 businesses paying £100 each to take part.

Captain’s House, Bigrigg, scooped the first prize and their name and logo will appear on next season’s home shirt.

They also won a signed shirt. B & H Motors landed the second prize of their name and logo on the away top, again with a signed shirt.

Coach Road Motors, Coquet Island and Donnan’s each won a season ticket for the Recre.

“I’d like to thank all who took part,” said organiser Des Byrne. “The money raised will go towards team-building and development.”

The VPs, who recently inducted Gary Broadbent in to the club’s Hall of Fame, made a contribution to the signing of Castleford prop Paul Jackson for next season.

They will now host a sportsman’s evening at Whitehaven Golf Club on November 30, when England cricket selector Geoff Miller, who played in 34 Tests, will be a special guest.

A comedian will also be on the bill, and a two-course meal is included in the £30 ticket price. Tables of 10 are available for £280.

Tickets are available from Byrne on 07986 663866, Ron Batty on 07734 296745, or from the Recre.

This week’s Pride of Five £100 winners are: C Weir, Bigrigg, with ticket number 1,651; M Branch, Saltom Road, Kells, 1,154; S Naylor, Duke Street, Whitehaven, 2,706; N Smith, Briscoe Mount, Egremont, 215; A McDonald, Moresby Parks, 1,117.

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