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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Lancaster bomber wings in for Haven

LATEST SIGNING: Paul Lancaster in actionPicture: Mike McKenzie

By Karl Connor

WHITEHAVEN have added yet more speed to their already pacy backline, with the signing of another flying winger – Whitehaven Rugby Union starlet Paul Lancaster.

However the club look to have missed out on another top target with Aussie packman Jim Gannon set to seal a move to National League One rivals Widnes.

With coach Paul Crarey promising fans more expansive, attacking rugby next season, the club have moved to secure the services of their very own Lancaster Bomber.

Haven chairman Des Byrne said: “I don’t know how his pace compares with Craig Calvert or Ade Adebisi, I don’t think they have had a foot race, but I would expect that he would be up there with them. Paul approached us himself last season to see if he could have a trial and we were more then happy to let him do that.

“We had him in the academy for a few games last season and he is a flyer, he scored some good tries and there is lots of potential there, we were keen to get him signed up once the season came to an end and we were building for the new one.

“Paul has a lot to learn and I think he knows that himself, but working with Paul Crarey will be good for him and I think with the kind of rugby that we are aiming to play this season someone with pace to burn like Paul will do well.

“Obviously there is more to being a winger then just speed, and Paul will have to adapt to the sport having played rugby union throughout his career so far.

“But we have offered him a chance to develop his potential here because we believe he is capable of making an impact – and he has accepted that, he is the kind of exciting player we are looking to have at The Recreation Ground.”

Paul, 23, has played his last game of RU and will join his new team mates for the start of preseason training.

He said: “I have played rugby union since I was six or seven-years-old, but I have always followed league both on the television and by going to watch the Whitehaven games.

“It is difficult to leave Whitehaven RU because it is like a big family down there, and I have played with the same bunch of lads since I was a schoolboy.

“But I am really keen to test myself at the highest level that I can, and going to Haven will give me a chance to do that.

“I played one season of RL, up at Hensingham when I was 11, so I know I have lots to learn, but I am excited.

“I was approached by Workington Town last season during the Rugby Union off-season, and I went through to train with them a couple of times.

“I had two weeks of training and I got a good vibe from them that they were keen to sign me, but when I told Mike Rothery – who is a friend of mine and a huge Haven fan – that I was maybe going to Town he arranged for me to have a trial at Whitehaven.

“I enjoyed it there, the training was good and I scored a few tries in the academy games I played in, which gave my confidence a boost.

“I wasn’t sure if they were going to offer me anything with the coaching set up changing and I went back to playing union, but then Haven called me in and made me an offer, I was delighted.

“This is a massive chance for me, and while I’m gutted to be leaving my mates a lot of them go to watch Haven so hopefully they’ll be seeing me in action in the first team soon. If I hadn’t taken up the offer I think I would always have been wondering ‘what if.”

Lancaster, who lives in the town with his parents, has not set himself any targets for the new season, but has been in rich form in the early season RU fixtures, scoring eight tries in five games.

“I just want to learn the game and try and get in the first team as quickly as possible, and then take it from there,” he said.

Haven are still looking to recruit ahead of the new season, but are no longer hopeful of landing former Huddersfield forward Jim Gannon.

Byrne added; “We made Gannon a very good offer, which remains on the table, and I think we had a great chance of getting him until Widnes came in at the last minute. It was between us and Oldham.

“It now looks like he’ll go to Widnes, but that isn’t the end of the world.

“We are in no rush to go out and grab a player, we have a good squad already, but the search does continue and we have cast the net far and wide.

“I think we can take our time, the first game is a long way off and the quota spot is still available, so I am confident that we’ll be okay on that front.”

HAVEN are holding a farewell party tomorrow (Friday) night for former player Steve Trindall, and his wife Rosie, who are returning to Australia.

Everyone is welcome to the free party, to be held at the JJ McEwan bar in the club, and it will include a karaoke and gameshow quizzes.

Last week's Pride of Five £100 winners were: J Nelson, Dent Road, Mirehouse, with ticket number 3,667; Mrs Pilkington, The Lion, Woodhouse, 2,024; N McCulloch, The Crescent, Bransty, 75; R Hope, High Road, Kells, 2,090; N Aldersley, Stobbart's, 253.

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