THE younger brother of well-known local rugby league ace Matt Calland is included in Newcastle Thunder’s 19-man squad for Sunday’s intriguing-looking Betfred League 1 clash with Oldham RLFC at the Vestacare Stadium (3pm kick-off).
Ben Calland, reared with Wigan under-19s and Salford under-19s, signed for Thunder pre-season after two years in Australia with Corrimal Cougars, a Country team in the Illawarra region of New South Wales.
He’s a centre who can also play second-row but, like big brother Matt, who played for Bradford, Featherstone, Rochdale Hornets, England and Oldham St Anne’s, his favourite spot is centre.
Now retired as a player, Matt Calland has been a main man at Rochdale Mayfield ARLFC and Hopwood Hall college rugby league for many years.
Thunder coach Jason Payne said of Calland jnr: “He’s a big, powerful player with a real passion for the game. He defends hard and aggressively, which is what we were looking for, and he has developed a real name for himself with the way he plays.”
Calland was on the bench in last Sunday’s 28-10 home win against Hunslet which gave the Geordie lads four league wins from seven outings and followed earlier successes at London Skolars, Coventry Bears and North Wales Crusaders.
Another centre, Joe Brown, is expected to figure in his 200th game for the club after receiving a testimonial last year.
The 19-man squad comprises of the 17 against Hunslet plus Aaron Ollett and Dan Turland.
Thunder (from): Mo Agoro, Harry Aldous, Jack Aldous, Ali Blair, Sam Blake, Joe Brown, Ben Calland, Rhys Clarke, Tyler Craig, Conor Fitzsimmons, Sam Luckley, Liam McAvoy, Aaron Ollett, Vince Rennie, Tee Ritson, Tom Shaw, Evan Simons, Dan Turland, Lewis Young.
It will be Thunder’s last game before their Magic Night Out clash with Bradford Bulls at Kingston Park on Friday, May 18, the night before the start of Dacia Magic Weekend at nearby St James’ Park, and they want to go into that big game on the back of two wins in a row.
Oldham need no reminding that they can expect a tough encounter from opponents who are used to playing on an artificial pitch and have won each of their three games on the road so far.
With an extremely hot Bank Holiday weekend in prospect, fans can expect a fast, expansive game which has all the makings of being an absolute cracker.