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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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I don’t wish to tempt fate... but let’s start counting chickens!

MEMORIES of Haven's pack getting bettered, sometimes battered, by Town’s pack last season are still fresh.

So it’s encouraging to hear that moves to bring two props over from Papua New Guinea are quite advanced.

And the fact that both are current PNG Test forwards is particularly welcome.

Both have put their names to paper but unfortunately we can’t announce the names yet as there’s a little matter of visas to sort out – all done and dusted at our end but still going through a tortuous process in the Pacific. Until that’s finalised it can’t be a done deal.

Hopefully all will be well and the international duo arrive early New Year and in time for the Championship pipeopener (at home) against York (Feb 3). A tasty one, too, for team boss Dave Woods for the City Knights were one of the clubs who decided to dispense with his services.

Haven are also hanging hopes on someone else from the Pacific – a certain Jessie Joe Parker.

JJ is looking forward to a Recre return but he’s in the same boat as his two international pack pals – he needs a brand new visa.

All three should arrive together if all goes well but it’s understandable why Whitehaven are not counting any chickens just yet.

Memories are still fresh over what happened early this year when they announced the captures of Jessie Joe and Glen Nami.

Jessie Joe made it but Glen didn’t.

Just when Haven were banking on him to call the shots from stand off, Nami changed his mind and took his talents Down Under instead.

So once bitten twice shy.

Jamie Rooney has since worked the No.6 magic since and young ex-Bradford Bull Cain Southernwood thinks he’s just the boy to help make the side tick at halfback.

But as we all know it doesn’t matter how good the back are if the forwards aren’t laying the platform.

And despite the giant strides of ex-Widnes man Dave Houghton, Paul Cullnean’s impact and the arrival of canny old heads Paul Jackson and Lee Paterson, two classy PNG Test forwards can make all the difference to how Haven go in the Championship.

There’s plenty in the older generation who insist that forwards today have it easy and not a patch of those of yesteryear – which brings me to Harry Edgar’s latest annual (Rugby League in the ‘Fifties). A scintillating collection of stories and photos – full review in News sport next week but it’s on sale now in good time for Christmas.

Jumping to the other code, it’s good luck at Twickers on Saturday to ex-St Bees schoolboy Stuart Lancaster when his England side take on the All Blacks at Twickers on Saturday.

Stuart got coach of the year at the Cumbria Sports Awards ceremony I attended in Windermere last Friday. As England were playing the Springboks next day he couldn’t be present but says that as a proud Cumbrian he was honoured to get the accolade.

Pity he lost to the ‘Boks in such controversial circumstances but better luck against the world champs.

It’s 40 years to the month since that epic match in West Cumbria when North West Counties did what England can only dream of doing this weekend – and that’s beat the All Blacks.

It was quite an occasion at Workington’s jam-packed Ellis Ground played on a Wednesday afternoon – famously as well the only time a rugby match report has made the front page of this newspaper!


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