Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Look Out! Here Come: Whitehaven

With only one win from four in the Northern Rail Cup (shipping 18 points in the process against Gateshead) and a 48-16 flogging at Doncaster last week (having  trailed 30-6 at the break) , it's safe to assume that Whitehaven are still trying to find their rhythm.

New Aussie coach Don Gailer (formerly of Brisbane A-grade outfit North Devils) set  his stall out early doors, announcing the marquee signings of two current Papua New Guinea test stars - stand-off Glen Nami and centre Jessie Joe Parker.

Nami, 25, played for the Kumuls in the 2010 Four Nations, scoring a try against New Zealand. Parker, 26, also featured in the tournament and already has Featherstone and Wakefield on his UK CV.

Whilst planning his promtion push around these two, Gailer has admitted in the press this week that the club is still waiting for their arrival due to visa clearance issues. So ex-Salford centre Max Wiper and the ever reliable kicking machine Carl Rudd hang onto their places. For now.

Other danger men to watch are ex-Wests Tigers back-row Luke Isakka and the relentlessly tricky Carl Sice.

Haven's side also contains two players familiar to Hornets fans -  Lee Doran and Richard 'Not the Face' Varkulis - who clearly travel to West Cumbria for the sea air and the scenery.

Certainly Gailer looks to be instigating a playing 'cultural shift' at the recre, with players already publicly supporting his 'Aussie Way' of setting the team up.

2nd rower Danny Barker is quoted in Wednesday's 'News & Star': “We have a lot of new faces this year and a different way of coaching,” he said. “A lot of us have never been involved in the Australian way… It’s all about breaking the game down… it's different and it's good…"

We agree: with one win out of five, don't change a thing Don -  it's working a treat.


Richard Varkulis is likely to be missing from Sunday's game with an injury picked up at Doncaster. Luckily for him, it's not the face - most likely knee cartilage damage picked up in the first set of the game. In a step-up that suggests that he's bought a house near a chippy, Varkulis has started all five of Haven’s games this season at PROP and his absence opens the door for veteran Howard Hill.

Lee Doran is back from suspension, but Scott McAvoy is racing the clock with a knee injury. There are also worries about winger Craig Calvert's neck injury.