CHAMPIONSHIP Grand Final winners Featherstone Rovers are already on with plans for next season after making a double swoop for two Dewsbury Rams players.
Forwards James Lockwood and Anthony England have signed one-year deals with Rovers and have been backed by coach Daryl Powell to add to the power in the Featherstone pack.
Lockwood, 25, is a back row forward or prop, who played for top amateur side Sharlston Rovers before joining Dewsbury where he was voted first team player of the year, forward of the year and players’ player in the season just finished.
Prop England, 24, is a former Castleford junior who has also had a spell with Gateshead. He also impressed during a difficult 2011 campaign with the Rams.
“We’ve lost Iain Morrison, Ross Divorty and Tony Tonks, of course, so we really needed to strengthen up front,” Rovers coach Powell told the Express.
“They will both be valuable additions and I’ve been impressed with both of them as players.
“James we nearly signed last season and whenever we’ve played against Dewsbury both of them have been exceptional.
“They proved difficult to handle around the ruck area and they play the game pretty tough.
“We’re looking to be really physical and tough with our pack next year and these two fit neatly into our plans.”
Powell hopes to be able to unveil more signings in the next few weeks as his plans for 2012 take shape.
He will be looking for a replacement back after losing Ben Cockayne to Super League when he joined Wakefield Wildcats on Monday.
The former Normanton Knights and Doncaster utility player boosted Rovers’ ranks mid-season after being released by Hull KR and made a positive impression with all at the club with no signs of the controversies of his time at Craven Park.
Powell was pleased with his contribution: “We expected to lose Ben. We knew he was wanting to play Super League and at the moment we can’t offer him that opportunity.
“But I’m delighted with what Ben did for us at the end of the season and I wish him all the best in furthering his career at Wakefield. I hope it goes really well for him.
“He provided us with a bit of spark on the wing after Bryn Powell got injured. He played a little bit of centre and had a little bit of a stint at hooker, a position which he looked pretty useful in. But on the wing he was electric and did some fantastic things for us.”
Featherstone players are now having a well earned rest, but it will soon be back down to work for them.
Powell explained: “The players are having a couple of weeks off and then they will have their own individual programmes to be working on.
“They will spent a fair bit of time in the gym and then they will be back into training on November 15.”