Rochdale Hornets announce two new signings for next season

Date published: 14 July 2020

Welsh international Gavin Bennion and half-back Rob Fairclough have signed for Hornets from 2021 on two-year deals.

Gavin Bennion will return to Rochdale Hornets for his third spell with the club having signed from Mackay Cutters in 2017, before featuring on loan in 2018. 

Gavin will join Hornets from Championship club, Swinton Lions to link up with his former chairman, Andy Mazey, now chairman of Rochdale Hornets. 

The signing of Rob Fairclough has also been announced and he will also join the club for the 2021 season on a two-year deal.

The 22-year-old is a product of Blackbrook ARLFC and St Helens academy. He joined Swinton Lions on a permanent deal in 2019, and scored five tries in 27 appearances in the same season. 

The young half-back also represented England Under 18s tour of Australia in 2016.

Gavin Bennion said: “It’s going to be a journey and a massive playing season. The aim has to be promotion, which I believe we have the quality within the squad to make happen. League 1 is going to be strong next year, and I can’t wait to get amongst it.

“I have a good relationship with the board at Rochdale – when I was approached by Andy and Tony Sheridan, I knew instantly it would be the right move for me. Our ambitions align and the main goal is to get into the Championship and be winning games week in, week out."

As part of the move, Bennion will also work for the Rochdale Hornets Sporting Foundation in a new role as Talent Pathway and Community Engagement Officer. 

He said: “The links with Hopwood Hall seem to be really strong and that’s a massive bonus and the Foundation are doing some great work. It's something that I think will be really good for young talent and a pathway for young players wanting to progress into the top leagues and to be able to be part of that is really exciting.”

Rob Fairclough said: “I’m really excited for this new journey, I’m really interested in the club's direction and where it is going. Hopefully we have a good season next year and get back into the Championship."

On the latest signings, head coach, Matt Calland said: “Gavin is a great signing for the club and it shows our intent for next season.

"He is a tall, rangy player with great hands and can play long minutes, too. Has already played for the club before and it’s great to have him back and I look forward to working with him.

"I have been impressed with Rob every time I’ve seen him play. This is a big signing for the club.

"He’s a real competitor. He came through the system at St Helens as a youngster and then moved on to Swinton where he has been a stand-out player. He has great skills and he is young and ambitious, so he fits the bill for the type of player we are looking for."


Tony Sheridan, Andy Mazey (chairman) and Richard Heyes
Tony Sheridan, Andy Mazey (chairman) and Richard Heyes


Hornets Chairman, Andy Mazey added: “We are absolutely delighted to bring Gav back to the club in a full-time role with the club and the Foundation. As well as the boost of securing a player of Gavin’s calibre on the field, it is also a significant development off it with his work in the community. 

“It’s no exaggeration to say he is one of the best performing players currently outside Super League. He plays big minutes week after week and is full of quality. Gavin is entering the prime years of his career; I’m delighted he has bought into the vision and will be coming on this exciting journey. 

“A special mention must also go to Tony Sheridan for his support which has enabled us to get this over the line – it is a major coup for Betfred League One and wonderful news for our loyal supporters as we continue to build for the future.”

On the signing of Rob Fairclough, Andy Mazey added: “It’s another eye opening piece of business for Rochdale Hornets and we are delighted to bring an exceptionally talented, experienced Championship half-back to the club.

"Having made a name for himself as a key performer at Swinton, Rob was obviously not going to be short of lucrative offers. Having discussed Rob with Matt Calland, he was someone he rated very highly and felt he would be a brilliant addition to the team in a key area.

"We had to move quickly, and I took the opportunity and got in front of him to explain the exciting vision we have for this club. Once Matt and Rob had then spoken, it went well and things moved quickly and I’m pleased that the rest is now history.

"He’s not only a top player, he’s a great lad from a brilliant family but make no mistake he’s an out and out competitor, winner and what I can only describe as a proper cheeky half-back who will without doubt quickly become a fan's favourite.

"Clearly there is a reason that players are now choosing this club and we are proud to now be seen as a club for ambitious players to come and ply their trade and progress their careers."

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