DEWSBURY Rams have pulled off a major coup by signing Super League star Nick Fozzard.
The 34-year-old joins Dewsbury from Castleford Tigers, although the 6ft 3in prop will be best remembered for two spells with St Helens. He won a World Club Challenge and two Challenge Cups with the Saints, featured in the 2008 Super League Grand Final and was also capped once by Great Britain.
The signing of Fozzard, who began player as a junior just yards away from the Rams at Shaw Cross Sharks, caps a fantastic week for the club after it was also confirmed they will remain in the Co-operative Championship following the decision to deduct Barrow all 29 points they earned.
A discliplinary hearing last Thursday found Barrow guilty of a number of breaches of operational rules over a four-year period and their points deduction sees the Cumbrians relegated instead of Dewsbury.
Raiders chairman Des Johnson has been banned from any involvement in the game for eight years.
Dewsbury have acted swiftly and Fozzard is among eight new signings the Rams have made in the last few days, while a further nine of last year’s squad have also committed their future.
A delighted Rams coach Warren Jowitt: “Nick is a huge signing for us and will show people we are moving in the right direction. He started his career at Shaw Cross and thinks it would be fitting to finish his career down the road with us.”
Fozzard, who has played 271 times for Leeds, Huddersfield, Warrington, St Helens, Hull KR and Castleford and was named in the 2007 Super League dream team, said: “I am delighted to have come to Dewsbury.
“I specifically asked my agent to get me here. I feel I have come full circle, having started at Shaw Cross, and I can’t wait to start.I am looking forward to playing and also helping the young lads out and giving something back to the game.”
Dewsbury’s other new signings are hooker Craig Cook from Toulouse, prop Ben Jones and centre or second row Ryan Esders, from York, former Leeds, Castleford, Hull KR and Harlequins loose forward or stand-off Dwayne Barker, half-back Scott Spaven from Doncaster, second row Daniel Samuel from Rochdale and 19-year-old half-back Daniel Gaunt from amateur club Stanley Rangers.
The Rams are also in talks to sign another half-back, George Flanagan, who has been released by Batley Bulldogs.
Rams fans will be pleased to hear Luke Blake has turned down an offer from Halifax to stay at Tetley’s Stadium, while Ayden Faal, Rob Spicer, Josh Tonks, Pat Walker, Andy Smith and Matthew Tebb have also agreed terms.
Full-back and James Craven and winger Mick Wainwright were already signed for next season, while Dewsbury have also offered youngsters Darrell Olpherts and Jermaine Akaidere a chance to impress in the first team.
However, forwards Anthony England and James Lockwood have left the club to join fellow ex-Dewsbury players Andy Bostock and Liam Finn at Featherstone Rovers.
Jowitt added: “We have brought in some quality players and the ones who have left do not really concern me as we will have a good squad.”
The Championship looks set to be highly competitive next season with eight of the 10 teams from Yorkshire.
Dewsbury will be joined by champions Featherstone, runners-up Sheffield Eagles, promoted Keighley Cougars, neighbours Batley Bulldogs, Halifax, Hunslet Hawks and York City Knights, who also avoided relegation after Crusaders were placed in Championship One.
Dewsbury’s longest away days will be two trips to Leigh Sporting Village to face Leigh Centurions and Championship One winners Swinton Lions, who have moved there.
Rams chairman Mark Sawyer said: “Obviously this was not the way we wanted to stay up but it was a massive relief after dragging on for a few weeks.
“We have been handed a lifeline and now we have got to improve.
“Nick Fozzard has been a great servant to rugby league and feels he has come full circle in his career.
“He has been involved in the game for 18 years and it would be great if he was to be handed a testimonial year, while he is with us.”
“Most of the players have agreed to stay which is great and we are pleased Luke Blake is staying on.”
Dewsbury will hold their fans’ forum in the Royal Suite at Tetley’s Stadium next Thursday, when it is hoped that another profile signing will be announced.
Mr Sawyer also hopes to have details of season ticket prices available for supporters at the meeting.