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Thursday, 25 December 2014

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Pora’s ready to rumble as Haven get set to roll

TOUGH prop Rodney Pora will be ready to rumble when he arrives at the Recreation Ground.

That is the word from Whitehaven chief executive Barry Richardson ahead of the Papua New Guinea international’s much-anticipated move to the Championship club.

He has now passed a formal English test which was a pre-requisite for being granted a visa and he should arrive at the club next month.

“He has been training every day with his club in Papua New Guinea,” Richardson said. “He will be ready to go when he gets here.

“Our players see him as adding something and are asking when he will be here.

“Rodney is a tough, robust, hard-tackling forward who is a regular starter for Papua New Guinea.”

Pora featured for PNG in their narrow 24-18 defeat to a star-studded Australian Prime Minister’s XIII in front of around 16,000 fans in Port Moresby last September.

And a successful season at Haven could put him in line for a place in the Kumuls’ World Cup squad in the autumn.

Haven had long targeted a player they believe can make a big impact in the Championship this term.

“He wasn’t able to sit the English test until the beginning of December, despite the club, the Rugby Football League and UK Border Agency paperwork being in place since early October,” said Richardson.

“Rodney is now waiting for the issuing of his PNG visa which could take between three and four weeks. The club sees Rodney as a major signing and we want him here as soon as is practical.”

Pora, who will join fellow PNG international Jessie Joe Parker at the Recre, looks likely to miss the league opener against visitors York on February 3 but fans should not have long to wait to see him in action.

“As we move in to the new season, we are looking forward to welcoming Rodney to the club in the near future,” said Richardson, who is also hoping local players such as Stephen Fox, Danny Barker and Matty Palmer will press their claims for a first-team start this term.

Haven handed debuts to seven players in last weekend’s 18-0 opening friendly win over Gateshead, including half-back Cain Southernwood.

The ex-Bradford Bulls prospect rated his debut as steady and believes there is more to come from him and the team on firmer surfaces in summer.

“I thought we went okay to start with, and we will get better the more games we play,” Southernwood said. “The weather held us back, or we could have scored 40 points.

“It’s about getting the little things right in the winter, and in the summer we can show more flair. We will surprise some teams.”

The youngster supplied the final pass to hooker Chris Smith for one of Haven’s three tries and believes he can work well with centre Scott McAvoy.

“They were not my conditions, and if the ground had been a bit harder, I could have done more. But I enjoyed being out there with the boys, and having McAvoy as my centre.

“He was always there, always talking, and it’s good to have a centre you can rely on.”

Wath Brow host the delayed final games in the BARLA County Tri-Series Championships on Sunday. Wins over Lancashire at open age and Under-19 level will hand Cumbria both titles.

The Under-19s kick-off at 1.30pm and the open age fixture is under way at 3pm.

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