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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Haven in for two Papua New Guinea stars

WHITEHAVEN are casting the net nearly 9,000 miles to pluck more internationals from The Pacific in time for next year’s Championship challenge.

The Whitehaven News can reveal that Haven’s directors are in the hunt for another two Papua New Guinea stars – as well as established Recreation Ground favourite Jessie Joe Parker.

Whitehaven chief executive Barry Richardson said yesterday (Wednesday) that, like Parker, both are current PNG Test regulars although he declined to say whether they are backs or forwards.

Hopes are high first of all that Parker will return; it’s understand that he wants to and certainly the club would dearly love him back and are working hard between Whitehaven and the Pacific to make it happen.

It wasn’t until late last season that Parker really found his feet at The Recre, but his blockbusting centre three-quarter performances coupled with powerful tackling played a key role in the side clinching promotion.

Getting him back in the chocolate blue and gold will be a coup itself, but a trio of PNG internationals would be a masterstroke.

Good news already that Scott McAvoy is back in the fold raises the prospect of him forming a dynamic centre duo with Parker, even rivalling the David Seeds/Mick Nanyn partnership of Grand Finals fame.

McAvoy has long been regarded as ‘another David Seeds’ but, for one reason or another, is yet to realise his full potential.

Head coach Dave Woods says: “We can help Scott fulfil his potential. He’s a really good footballer who will give us some more strike power out wide. McAvoy packs both size and pace.”

Richardson added: “On his day, Scott can be one of the best centres in the Championship. Even though he’s been with us for eight years now, he’s still young and has a long way to go and we’re looking for big things from him.”

After a five-try purple patch in the opening eight games of 2012, McAvoy suddenly (for family reasons) opted for a spell away from the game but made a surprise comeback in what proved to be the final game against the old enemy, Workington, at Derwent Park.

Big things are also expected of another young player – hooker Chris Smith – who this week signed on the dotted line for another 12 months.

Bedeviled by injury, Smith will be all out to recapture the form of two seasons ago when he so brilliantly filled Graeme Mattinson’s boots in the No 9 shirt.

Richardson said: “He’s fully fit again, in full training and feeling really confident. He can be one of the Championship’s best in his position.”

At Whitehaven though, Smith knows he faces competition for a starting berth from the mercurial Carl Sice and new Geordie capture James Newton, not forgetting Neil Thorman. who is on the brink of move from London Skolars. Haven were yesterday still waiting to officially complete his signing.

Another Geordie, Thorman is Mr Versatility because of his ability to play well in three key positions – full-back, half-back and hooker.

Coach Woods, who was Thorman’s mentor at Gateshead Thunder, said: “Neil is a good all-round footballer – good hands, good feet and has a nice kicking game, all useful in the middle of the field.”

Thorman may well stake a strong claim for the full-back spot but local boy Shane Ackerley – back from his loan spell at Gateshead – will also have eyes on the position.

Meanwhile, Haven are casting the net to make more signings in the British game. Richardson said: “We’re not rushing, it’s about making sure we get the right quality of players.”

Last week’s Pride of Five £100 winners were: M Stephens, Frizington, ticket no 2011; Sharon Naylor, Duke St, Whitehaven 2706; C McAvoy, Pica 145; Trevor Scott, Rydal St, Frizington 2572; R Huby, Threaplands, Cleator Moor 1309.

This week’s winners: Mrs H McGlennon, Snebro Road, Whitehaven, with ticket 3311, Mrs M Dockwray, Fleswick Avenue, Woodhouse, 3451; Kevin Hetherington, Carlton Drive, Whitehaven, 1405; R Napier, Seamill Lane, St Bees, 2150; Mrs RA Haddow, Thorn Road, Carnforth Heath, Dorset, 3912.

Chocolate Blue and Gold Club: 2309 G Smitham £250; 2345 Paula Blinco £100; 2327 Trevor Walls £50; 2307 John Smith £50; 1454 Stephen McCann £50.

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