New Featherstone Rovers signing Martyn Ridyard believes he has joined a side that can compete with the best in the Championship.
Ridyard rejected the chance to stay with favourites for promotion Leigh for the 2018 season after going on loan to Super League club Huddersfield Giants last season and also turned down offers from several other clubs to come to Featherstone.
The talented playmaker has agreed a two-year deal with Rovers and reckons the team can improve on what they achieved last year when fourth and claiming a win and a draw in the Qualifiers.
He said: “We will be looking to make the top four again and we want it to be impressive.
“Fourth spot will be the benchmark for us next season, as we have a quality squad in place.
“I believe we can more than match the likes of Leigh, London, Toulouse and Toronto.”
Ridyard knows what it takes to win the Championship and also earn promotion after being part of the successful Leigh side, who made it to Super League. He is expecting it to be more competitive than ever in 2018, but cannot wait to get started.
He said: “The Championship is getting harder and harder. Next year’s competition will be arguably the toughest to date, with so many full-time teams in there.
“I am just looking forward to getting into pre-season training and hitting the ground running when it comes round to the first league game of the season.
“I am really looking forward to the challenge ahead, having played all my career at Leigh, other than a stint with Huddersfield, this is something new for me.
“It is a fresh challenge and one I cannot wait to get my teeth into. The idea of working with John Duffy was a major pulling point for me. I have known him for a long time, I have played with him and I know what he is capable of.”
Ridyard, 31, faces competition to tie down a place in the Rovers’ starting 13, with half-back Anthony Thackeray remaining at the club and Tom Holmes joining from Castleford Tigers.
But he reckons the trio can all feature in the same side and the competition for places will be good for the team.
He added: “In a modern-day team, you can have three or more halves on the field at any one time.
“You could throw one at loose, one at hooker, or even one at full-back. It depends how you want to set up and play.
“Nowadays, the full-back acts, or can act, as an extra pivot. Sean O’Loughlin, although he is a lot bigger than me, plays as a kind of ballplayer at loose forward.
“It will be interesting to see how it all pans out, though, believe me, John Duffy’s style of play, with extra playmakers on the field, will have great results.”
Ridyard, a goal-kicker with a tremendous strike rate, is Duffy’s sixth signing for the 2018 campaign and the head coach is delighted to have the half-back on board.
He said: “We are thrilled to have pulled off such a big signing for the club and we feel Martyn will bring a great deal to what we are trying to achieve here.
“He brings strong leadership qualities and a fantastic track record. I feel he can be a genuine leader for the team going forward.
“He has been there and done it all at Championship level and was a part of Leigh’s promotion last year.
“I have worked and played alongside him in the past and know exactly what he is capable of and what he will bring to the party.
“Martyn has the kind of composure that a coach looks for in a player during big games and we feel confident he will achieve great things here.”
Ridyard will start pre-season training alongside his new Featherstone team-mates this month and will be in line to feature for the first time when Rovers take on Castleford Tigers on Boxing Day.
Latest £500 lottery winners: F Clarkson (Q3601), M Ashman (F0807), B Marshall (V5816), J Fairbank (M4440). £5 consolation winners: S Wilson (W1524), M Ward (V4513).