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RUGBY LEAGUE: Opening game defeat, but Rovers make signings

Hull Kingston Rovers further strengthened the first team squad on the eve of the Betfred Super League season opener against Wakefield, by signing USA international Junior Vaivai and experienced forward Danny Tickle.

Vaivai is a Kiwi-born 28-year-old centre who weighs in at 105kg and boasts excellent footwork and good pace. He’s played previously in the NRL for both South Sydney Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers, whilst he scored six tries in five games at international level.

Vaivai, who is a cousin of Hollywood movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has signed a one-year contract with a further one-year option subject to receiving the necessary visa paperwork, which is anticipated to arrive within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, Tickle, who has represented England in the past, has racked up over 400 first team appearances throughout his career with spells for Halifax, Wigan, Hull FC, Widnes, Castleford and Leigh. He now moves to KCOM Craven Park on a one-year deal.

An excellent goal-kicker, Tickle provides further options in the Rovers forward pack and will link up with his new teammates for training next week.

Hull KR’s Head of Rugby Jamie Peacock said: “Junior is going to be a really strong acquisition for us. He mainly plays centre or wing but he’s got a bit of versatility as well and Brian McDermott said he was very good with the USA. I spoke to Sam Burgess about him during the World Cup as well and he was also singing his praises. He’s a good player and we’ve done well to add him to our squad.

“As for Danny, all the times I’ve played against him or trained with him as part of an England camp, I’ve thought him to be a very good player. He’s still got a lot to offer Hull KR with his experience, his rugby knowledge and also his goal-kicking, which could all prove to be invaluable.

“Danny’s more of a middle forward these days but he’s played a lot on the edge. He’s another who’s got plenty of experience and we need that. He’s done the battles in Super League and he was one of Leigh’s best players every week last year, so I’m delighted we’re bringing him in.

“Both players will really add to our squad. They’re both talented players in their own rights and they add to our depth, which is going to be a really key facet for us this season.”

Friday night’s opener was a disappointing night for Rovers on their return to Super League, going down 28 – 6. The first half saw them anxious, give away too many penalties, knock on too often and try to force too many passes. They settled and improved after the break but still gave away too many penalties.  The Robins certainly competed physically with a much bigger Wakefield side and all should not be gloom and despondency as they adapted to the speed of the game as it went on.  Danny Maguire certainly impressed with his composure and leadership and though things did not really click for Rovers, the ideas and enthusiasm were there and when the execution matches the creativity things will get better. Onwards and upwards to Leeds away on Thursday.