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Thursday, 24 July 2014

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Houghton powers his way into Haven’s plans

WHITEHAVEN are looking to make Dave Houghton their second recruit for their return to the Championship after he enjoyed an impressive debut season at the Recreation Ground.

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Impressive performance: Whitehaven’s Dave Houghton pictured in action against Rochdale.

The prop has started every match this term bar one, and Haven are making no secret that they would like him to return for their step up to the second tier in 2013, after already securing the services of playmaker Jamie Rooney.

“We’ve been in discussion with him and his agent for a while now, and we are hoping to draw it to a conclusion soon,” said chief executive Barry Richardson.

“He has been a magnificent signing for us and his work-rate is absolutely phenomenal. We think he can go a lot further in the game and we are more than confident he can step up to the Championship and perform at that level. Dave’s still a young lad and is getting better and better.”

Houghton this week declared that his preference was to stay at Haven but that his future was still undecided.

The 22-year-old joined Haven from Widnes this term. He had been a first-team regular for the Vikings in 2010 but failed to make his mark last year under new boss Denis Betts and was limited to only three appearances.

He was one of 13 players released at the end of last season as they prepared for their return to Super League, and after he was handed a glowing recommendation by Vikings’ director of rugby Paul Cullen, the respected former Recre coach, Haven wasted no time in signing him.

Haven’s travelling players, including the front-rower, train twice a week with locally-based team-mates, and contrary to rumour, no decision has yet been made on how often the entire squad will train together next term.

“It will be twice a week in pre-season, and then potentially once a week, but it all depends on budgets,” added Richardson.

“We must get a balance. We would love a predominantly local team and are attempting to sign local players. But it’s also the case that there will be travellers.

“Jamie Rooney travels from Yorkshire. If the right quality player from that area came up it would make sense for more than one player to travel up in that car. Likewise with Lancashire.”

Haven’s allocation from the RFL will actually fall next term, when Championship clubs will each receive £90,000. Championship One clubs this season receive £100,000.

“Gates have been disappointing this year and we have to put a team on the park that will attract fans,” Richardson added. “The more that come, the better squad we can put together.

“But we won’t spend above our means. Our lottery has really helped this year and we really appreciate supporters and the people of Copeland getting behind it.”

Late applications took the number looking to be Haven’s new head coach to 17. A shortlist of five has been compiled and interviews will conclude on Friday.

This week’s Pride of Five £100 winners are: A Dougan, Red Lonning, with ticket number 246; D Woodend, Yewbank Lane, Hensingham, 1,250; D Taylor, St Paul’s Avenue, Frizington, 3,868; V Penrice, Glenridding Walk, Richmond, 139; L Skinner, Whitehaven town centre, 259.

Haven v Rochdale match report and Alan Irving’s Eye on the Ball on page 47.

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