9th January 2020, 09:17 | set_of_six
England players Down Under
England halfback George Williams took part in his first training session since moving to 2019 NRL Grand Finalists earlier this week.
Williams came through the ranks at Wigan Warriors, making his first team debut back in 2013. The 25-year-old would go on to win the Super League title twice as well as lifting the World Club Challenge in 2017.
His impressive performances saw him debut for England in 2015 before representing his country in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Williams was a member of the Great Britain Rugby League Lions touring squad last season.
He joins fellow Englishmen John Bateman, Elliot Whitehead, Josh Hodgson and Ryan Sutton at Canberra and could play his first game on Friday 13 March. Read his thoughts on his move here.
Char Booth also became the first England Women’s star to make the move Down Under earlier this week as it was confirmed she would leave double-winning Leeds Rhinos for Brisbane-based West Panthers.
Booth was part of the England Women’s squad that recently toured Papua New Guinea in a two-game test series. More details here.
Coral Challenge Cup First Round
This weekend will see the Road to Wembley begin as 44 community and representative clubs battle it out for a place in the hat for Round Two.
Two games are set to be broadcast live with the all-National Conference League clash between Skirlaugh and Hunslet Club Parkside will be live on BBC Red Button and Online from 12:30pm on Saturday 11 January.
Sunday’s online offering sees the RAF welcome Yorkshire Men’s League champions Bentley from 1:30pm, live on Our League. To watch that game live sign-up to Our League here.
The First Round will also see Armed Forces sides in the Army and Navy as well as the Great Britain Police compete. There will be two Welsh sides, a Scottish side and an Irish side involved as well as teams from all four corners of England.
To see a full list of Coral Challenge Cup Round One fixtures, click here.
Leeds legends reunite
Sunday will mark a special occasion as Leeds Rhinos face Bradford Bulls in a game which will mark Jamie Jones-Buchanan’s testimonial and a fundraiser for Rob Burrow, who was recently diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Rob Burrow is set to wear the Amber and Blue one last time alongside fellow Leeds legends Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Jamie Peacock, Danny McGuire and Kevin Sinfield who will all enter the field in the closing stages of the game.
🙌 @SkySportsRL to show Jamie Jones-Buchanan Testimonial & Rob Burrow Fundraiser Game.— Rugby Football League (@TheRFL) January 8, 2020
👏 All camera, replay, sound and technical operators are donating their services for the day, along with the production and presentation team.
More: https://t.co/IaJWeeyUUF pic.twitter.com/mwDLt7VdkI
The fixture is set to be shown live on Sky Sports Mix at 3pm on Sunday with all of elements of the broadcast being donated by long-term contractors. For more information click here.
The Emerald Headingley Stadium has officially sold out for the match!
While the focus of many will be on the Leeds Rhinos versus Bradford Bulls fixture and the Coral Challenge Cup First Round, for many sides preparations towards 2020 continue with another round of warm-up games.
There is one all-Super League affair on Sunday as Wakefield Trinity welcome Hull Kingston Rovers. Hull FC host London Broncos who are preparing for life back in the Betfred Championship while there is a tasty Kirklees derby between Huddersfield Giants and Halifax at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Rochdale Hornets and Oldham will compete for the annual Law Cup, Salford Red Devils host Leigh Centurions and Widnes Vikings welcome Castleford Tigers. For a full list of pre-season fixtures, click here.
Thatto Heath fundraising efforts
Unfortunately, St Helens based community club Thatto Heath Crusaders were subject to an arson attack over the weekend which has done significant damage to their training facilities.
The club have set up a fundraising page in order to help with their repair efforts. You can donate to their cause here.
TRAINING BARN UPDATE - GoFundMe now live - Thank you for everyones support and offers and help. We have setup a GoFundMe page in an effort to help with our repair efforts.https://t.co/epnJ47Kmws— ThattoHeathCrusaders (@ThattoRugby) January 5, 2020
Thatto Heath Crusaders progressed all the way to Round Five of the Coral Challenge Cup in 2019 following a memorable victory over North Wales Crusaders and will begin their 2020 campaign on the road to Thornhill Trojans.
Underbank Rangers raising funds for Australia
Huddersfield-based community side Underbank Rangers are also embarking on fundraising efforts to help those affected by the bushfires in Australia.
Former Aussie Matty Byatt, who played for Underbank in 2018, and Nath Robinson, who spent three seasons with the club, are both currently helping to fight the fires Down Under. Matty Gruber, who also played for the club last year, has flown back home to assist.
All receipts from their Coral Challenge Cup tie against Lock Lane at Dunford Road on Saturday 11 January will go towards helping those affected.