Key Rovers pair pen new contracts

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FEATHERSTONE Rovers have received a double boost with news that key duo Sam Smeaton (pictured) and Tim Spears have both signed new two-year deals.

Former Featherstone Lions centre Smeaton, 22, and ex-Batley Bulldogs and Castleford Tigers second row forward Spears, 27, were both out of contract at the end of this season.

Coach Daryl Powell is delighted they are both staying at the club after they played important roles in helping Featherstone win the Championship Trophy and League Leaders’ Shield.

“Sam is a fantastic young bloke who works hard at his game,” said Powell.

“He has grown physically and worked hard in the gym. He’s adding little bits to his game all the time and I’m delighted he has signed for another two years.

“He is a player who has the potential to play at a higher level. With another two years at Featherstone, I think he will get that opportunity at some point during that time.

“Tim is really tough individual. He’s a great leader and he speaks a lot of sense. He is outstanding defensively and he’s added bits to his game with the ball as well. He’s developed his passing game and he’s got an off-load. When you are looking at your team sheet and deciding who to put down, he is one of the first because he is one of the foundations of what we’ve got here.”

Rovers have lost front-rowers Tony Tonks, Ross Divorty and Iain Morrison.

Tonks has joined Super League Huddersfield on a one-year contract and Divorty and Morrison have both joined Halifax.

Powell said: “We are going to lose some blokes and we are going to have to re-structure our front row a little bit.

“We’ll be signing players - and we have signed players - who are going to be outstanding for us so I am confident we will be very strong again next year.

“We are looking to have a formidable team next season. We will be replacing the players that leave with high quality players at our level. We are looking to be stronger next year and we are not looking to dip our standards in any way.”

Powell is pleased 26-year-old former Wakefield and Bradford Academy player Tonks has been given the chance to play in Super League.

“I am delighted for Tony Tonks and his family. I think it’s a great opportunity and I wish him all the best. I’ll be proud watching him play, like I am watching Zak Hardaker and Kyle Briggs,” he said.

“When you look at front rowers in Super League, especially carrying the ball, you see quite a lot of teams that haven’t got players as good as him. I am sure he will do well.

“Tony is a great kid who has worked so hard to make himself better over the last couple of years. He has just got better every year with us. I thought his first year wasn’t great and we had some hard words at times and Tony has responded in a fantastic way.

“He’s a really strong individual who gives 100 per cent every single game and at every single training session. I think the players will be glad to see the back of him in training because he’s such a handful. It’s unbelievable the way he goes about things.”

Powell is confident Rovers can build on this season’s success after beating Sheffield Eagles in Sunday’s Championship Grand Final.

He said: “You are just striving to higher your standards at all times. That’s what we ask of players when they come here - that they work hard to get better and I think the signs are that that’s what happens.

“It is a strong club from top to bottom and that’s what we’ve worked hard to create. I have had a lot of support from the Board and from the chief executives, Andy Prout initially and now Simon Riley.

“There are a lot of good people working at the club and there’s a lot of high quality things going on.

“Obviously, getting the ground updated will be a big part of our future and so will the young people who are at the club.

“The standards we set in the first-team everyone else aspires to reach them as well and that’s what makes us such a strong club at the moment.

“We have to work really hard to fund what we do with our young players and that’s what we are doing.

“The young players we are signing are quality. There’s some real quality players coming through who I am confident will be playing first-team football in the next two or three years.”