Manning ‘one of the best’ - Karl

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HALIFAX coach Karl Harrison has made his first pack signing for 2012, snaring Co-operative Championship Young Player of the Year nominee Dane Manning on a one-year contract.

Manning is the second player to follow new boss Harrison from Batley to the Shay, following in the footsteps of the Bulldogs’ captain Paul Handforth, who agreed a two-season deal earlier this week.

The 22-year-old former Leeds player, who was a member of the Featherstone side beaten by Fax in the 2010 Grand Final, has been widely rated as one of the form back rowers outside Super League this year.

The Dewsbury-based forward also has a family connection with Fax: His grandfather, Tony Manning, made 29 appearances for the club between 1963 and 1971.

“Dane is certainly up there with the best players in that position in the competition,” enthused Harrison.

“He was a dual-reg with Featherstone last year, then Leeds released him and he came to Batley at the start of this season because he was a local lad and wanted to play for the club.

“He was good for Featherstone, but we gave him an opportunity and he really took it; he’s a nice lad who listens, works hard at his game and plays extremely tough.

“He runs strong, tackles hard and he’s got a decent pair of hands too.

“He’s got big Super League ambitions and I’m sure he will prove to be a great acquisition for Halifax.”

Harrison also remained optimistic that there was still a chance Manning would be lining up alongside Sam Barlow next season.

Fax’s in-form front rower has been heavily linked with Super League side Hull KR, although Courier Sport understands that Salford are also actively tracking the player.

“Sam’s been made an offer and we will be meeting him in the next day or so to discuss that,” said Harrison.

“I’d like to think we can still reach an agreement with him.”

The Rugby Football League have received a second application to field a Wrexham-based team in the Co-operative Championship in 2012.

Crusaders, who in July withdrew their bid for a new Super League licence, will find out on Friday if they have been accepted into the second tier of professional rugby league.

If that bid for a place in the Championship is rejected, the League will consider an alternative application from a second, unnamed Wrexham consortium to play in Championship 1.

Ralph Rimmer, the RFL’s chief operating officer, said: “Each application will be considered by the RFL board separately and on its own merits.

“It is important to stress that these are not rival bids. The group behind the application to play in Championship 1 have asked that their proposal only be considered if the application to enter a club in the Championship is unsuccessful.”

Wigan coach Michael Maguire has defended his decision to impose a media ban on his players ahead of Sunday’s Super League play-off clash with Catalan Dragons.

The Warriors declined all interview requests on the instruction of Maguire, who fronted reporters on his own at Tuesday’s press conference at the club’s Orrell training base.