Flanagan given early release from contract

George Flanagan has joined Hunslet Hawks. Picture: Bob Nunn.
George Flanagan has joined Hunslet Hawks. Picture: Bob Nunn.

Featherstone coach Andy Hay will be looking to Andy Ellis, Luke Teasdale and Sam Irwin to provide cover at hooker next season following George Flanagan’s departure to Hunslet Hawks.

Former Batley Bulldogs player Flanagan, 28, who missed the end of last season with a broken leg, was given an early release from his Rovers contract to join Hunslet.

“I sat down with George at the start of pre-season and I spoke about the options for him and where he was in the plans. We had four hookers and he was one of them,” said Hay.

“George didn’t really want to leave but he wants to play week in, week out. He is at the age where he feels he wants to be playing regularly and I couldn’t guarantee he would be in the starting line-up or the 17 each week so he took the option to join Hunslet.

“George realised it was going to be tough to break into the team especially when he is coming back from his injury and he will not start the season so he decided to move on.

“He plays with such passion and all he wants to do is play. It would have been difficult for him if he hadn’t been playing every week.”

Irwin, 21, and fellow Australian Ryan Verlinden have both joined Rovers on two-year contracts.

Irwin arrived at Featherstone two weeks ago and prop Verlinden is set to arrive shortly.

“Irwin can play at hooker and half-back. His favourite position is hooker but he played half-back all last year. We brought him in to cover both positions,” added Hay.

“We are still waiting for Verlinden to receive his passport.”

Rovers are also still waiting for clearance from the RFL for the Cook Island prop who will be joining them.

Hay does not expect any further player departures before the start of the new season.

“I don’t think anyone else is likely to leave,” he said.

“Everyone is training hard, there is a lot of competition for places and everyone has got their opportunity.

“I suppose it could get to the point where some of the fringe players or some of the younger lads might want to go out on loan if they are playing well in the reserves and not getting in the first-team but we’ll have to look at that if it arises.”

Featherstone are still monitoring the situation regarding winger Jason Crookes who finished last season on loan at Featherstone from Hull FC.

Crookes, 24, is looking for a new club for 2015 after being released by Hull FC.

“At the minute the boys who are training are training really well and we are giving them the first opportunity,” said Hay.

“The boys are now three weeks into training. We’ve set them some targets and put them under a fair bit of pressure.

“Every player has improved week on week in fitness and strength gains.

“ The weather has not been kind to us in the last week or so. The field has been pretty boggy and muddy so we haven’t done as much skill work as we’d like to do but we will get there and the facilities we’ve got down there are excellent for everything else. We are making good headway.”