French star set to boost Rams’ ranks

elliot hodgson dewsbury  - Dewsbury v Widnes d15051181
elliot hodgson dewsbury - Dewsbury v Widnes d15051181

DEWSBURY Rams are set to sign French international stand-off William Barthau on a dual registration from Super League side Catalans Dragons.

Warren Jowitt coached Barthau when he was assistant to France’s head coach Bobby Goulding at last year’s European Cup and he was finalising flights this week, although the deal may not be completed in time Barthau to play in tomorrow’s Co-operative Championship match at Barrow Raiders (6.30pm).

Rams boss Jowitt said: ”William is a French international stand-off but he has regularly been 18th or 19th man at Catalans this time and it was felt that he needed to be playing at a good standard, so the deal will be good for him and us.”

It provides a double boost for the Rams, who have also signed Leeds Rhinos promising centre Aston Wilson on a dual registration deal.

Dewsbury beat off competition from Halifax and Hunslet to sign the Rhinos Under-20 player, who Leeds coach Brian McDermott is already tipping as a future Super League player.

However, it is a case of two in and two out for the Rams after a double blow.

Luke Blake, who has been in inspirational form at hooker, sustained broken ribs in last Sunday’s thrilling 34-34 draw with Widnes Vikings and he is set to be out for around four weeks.

Then, on Tuesday, the RFL disciplinary panel handed down a five-match ban to prop forward James Walker, following two incidents in the Challenge Cup defeat by Swinton Lions.

Walker received a two-match ban for leading with the elbow or forearm while in possession of the ball and a further three-match ban for fighting late in the game. Walker was also fined £50.

Despite the suspension, Jowitt was full of praise for his popular forward, saying: “James was brought back into the team and has done a great job on and off the field.He has been very valuable to us.”

Scott Glassell replaced Blake at hooker last Sunday and did a terrific job, so he could start tomorrow, while another option is utility forward Josh Tonks.

Jowitt admitted he was delighted with last Sunday’s display when Austin Buchanan’s dramatic late try, coupled with Dominic Brambani’s goal snatched a draw.

Jowitt added: “I was really proud of the kids who played with passion, spirit and pride. They are a young team and were in a bit of a hole, which is hard to get out of, but they have worked hard.

“We produced a vast improvement in the second half and restricted Widnes to two tries, and one of those came because Elliot Hodgson slipped when he would have fielded the ball. We were 100 per cent better and the confidence is back in the dressing room. The lads showed last week that they are up for it.

“I am confident if we go to Barrow and play like we can we will come away with something.”

Last Sunday’s gate of 1,083 was lower than Dewsbury anticipated, against one of the best supported clubs outside Super League, but the figure was not helped when two Widnes supporters’ coaches broke down on the way.

Dewsbury fans will hope to avoid similar problems on their trip to Cumbria. The supporters’ coach leaves Tetley’s Stadium at 2.30pm and Dewsbury bus station at 2.45pm.