Thursday, 4 February 2016

Sunday's Coming: Coventry

Cookie models his testimonial jersey.
In the week when it’s been announced that Coventry’s Ricoh Arena is on the radar for a Rugby League Four Nations game, the Midlands’ highest profile club makes the trip up to League’s heartland for John Coookson’s testimonial game.

Despite celebrating their 18th anniversary this year, Coventry Bears are a bit like the village of Brigadoon - unless you’re actually there, they exist in a misty hinterland of the collective Rugby League consciousness. A fleeting glimpse in your peripheral vision and then…

Having made their semi-pro debut last year, they finished their first season in 12th place - and coach Tom Tsang has drafted in some heavy duty Antipodean experience to add a bit of grist to the Bears’ mill.

Prop James Guertjens and Second Row have Jono Milizewski have Quensland Cup experience with Norths Devils. Joining them from Autralia’s top right-hand cormer is former Sunshine coast Falcons utility half Jay Lobwein and Hooker James Redman from Townsville’s Central ASA Tigers.
Chuck in Second Row Liam Thompson from Canberra’s West Belconnen Warriors you have a pretty solid core to build around.

Augmented with players from Swnton, Salford, Sheffield, Halifax and NW Crusaders, this is suddenly less of a ‘development team’, but a unit with a decent RL pedigree. It’ll also be the second consecutive game that Hornets have faced a winger called Jamahl.  Now, that IS a stat.

Coventry are also set to create a bit of League history next month - starting their League 1 season proper with trip to France to face Toulouse Olympique XIII (interestingly, their second fixture is equally glamorous - its at Butts Park against us!).

Hornets come into this game off the back of a patchy Law Cup in which Oldham produced seven minutes of lucid first half football that effectively won the game. If you chose that seven minutes to go to the loo or grab yourself a cup of tea, you probably saw a tightly contested game. For the rest of us it was a timely reminder that the newly configured Hornets machine still needs a little fine tuning ready for the season ahead. Indeed, having beaten a poor Swinton and lost to a well-drilled if unspectacular Oldham, Sunday should give a clearer indication of where we’re at.

Finally, please do support John Cookson’s testimonial in as many ways as you can.

Having given the game 10 years service, this will be John’s eighth season in a Hornets jersey. After signing for Leigh from Adlington Juniors, he first came to Hornets for a loan spell. He went on to become the first player to reach 100 appearances for the supporter-owned Hornets.

He’s currently played 132 games and scored 27 tries  - including one in the Grand Final at Leigh in 2013.

His standing at the club is such that he has been awarded Hero of Hornets status - was voted by supporters into the Hornets all-time XIII alongside some legendary luminaries and has had the matchday lounge named in his honour.

And don’t forget that the special testimonial playing kit will be auctioned off after the game - so grab yourself a rarity. See you Sunday.