GATESHEAD Thunder have said goodbye to a number of their established stars as they look to mount a credible challenge next season.
A revised line-up of teams in Co-operative Championship One includes sides from Hemel Hempstead, Oxford and Gloucester, giving Thunder a realistic chance of avoiding a fourth consecutive bottom-of-the-table finish.
Among the list of names departing are Matty Barron, Ash Thackeray, Mike Mitchell, Robin Peers, Ryan Clarke, Tabu Cakacaka and Will Bate, with head coach Kevin Neighbour already busily looking to assemble his group for the resumption next year.
Meanwhile, the Rugby Football League have confirmed that North East participation in the sport is on the up with 17 men’s teams now playing and 1,032 open-age registered players.
The RFL’s North East regional manager, Jo Drapier, said: “We have had a great year across the region and I would say a big thank you to all rugby league staff and volunteers for their support, which has enabled us to achieve the biggest stats the North East has ever seen.”