Clock ticking for Crusaders
Crusaders are adamant they will have put together a competitive team by the time they open the 2010 Super League against Leeds Rhinos.
By Rachel Griffiths
Last Updated: 31/12/09 12:59pm
Crusaders are adamant they will have put together a competitive team by the time they kick-off the 2010 engage Super League against defending champions Leeds Rhinos.
The Welsh club have just four weeks until the opening clash on January 29 to finish their team rebuilding after a run of setbacks following their delayed takeover.
The Wrexham-based outfit, who are led by new head coach Brian Noble, have lost nine regular players from the team that took the wooden spoon after a miserable debut Super League campaign in south Wales, and have only confirmed five new signings so far.
Players definitely committed are former Hull hooker Tommy Lee and overseas foursome Michael Witt, Nick Youngquest, Tony Martin and Frank Winterstein, but the Crusaders have been unable capture Australia Test forward Willie Mason, while the signing of New Zealand winger Matt Utai fell through after he failed to recover from a knee injury.
"We're still a few short but there is a lot of work going on and we're confident we will have a competitive playing squad," said Crusaders chief executive Mike Turner.
"We don't want to announce players and then get visas turned down. We made an effort to sign Willie Mason and he would have been a marquee signing but we've got four or five guys we're waiting to complete on."
The Crusaders squad will make the move up from south Wales this weekend in time for their first training session in Wrexham on Monday, with the club set to boost their marketing campaign ahead of the opening match.
"Christmas came at the wrong time but now we know where we're going off the pitch and we start a mass marketing strategy on Monday," added Turner.
"The reaction in north Wales has been very positive and the Wrexham Council could not have been more helpful. We've got banners hanging from lamp-posts around the ground and in the town.
"There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. There has been a steady number of people turning up for match tickets and season tickets every day.
"We are aiming for a crowd of between 8,000 and 10,000 for the Leeds game."