Ashall has top flight potential

ROCHDALE coach John Stankevitch believes his former protege Craig Ashall can be a Co-operative Championship sensation with Halifax - and then go on to play Super League.

Ashall, a former Warrington and St Helens junior who spent three years at Swinton before joining Hornets for 2011, was signed in the autumn by Fax boss Karl Harrison and was outstanding in last weekend’s Northern Rail Cup opener at Dewsbury.

And Stankevitch, who will bring his Hornets side to the Shay on Sunday afternoon, is adamant there is plenty more to come from Wigan-based hooker or back rower.

“I’m not surprised he’s playing so well, not at all,” said Stankevitch, who took Hornets to within one game of last season’s Championship One Grand Final.

“I hadn’t come across Craig until the back end of 2010 when I saw him at Swinton and it was obvious he’d got something.

“I had a sixth sense about him then and he turned out to be absolutely outstanding for us last year and swept the board when the awards were handed out at the end of the season.

“I said to him during the summer that he needed to progress, needed Championship football, and I am delighted he’s started so well for Halifax.

“I’ve no doubt he’ll be outstanding at that level and I honestly believe he’s got the potential to go on and play Super League.

“He’s already in his mid-20s, but I’m a big believer in the idea that players develop in different ways.

“There is plenty of talent in the Championship, but the Super League coaches don’t seem to look for it.

“If Craig does well, it looks good for me, for Rochdale as a club and for the Championship One competition.

“He went with our blessing and I wish him every success.”

Ashall’s former employers go into Sunday’s game without any match practice, after a remarkable run of five consecutive weather-induced postponements wrecked their fixture programme.

“We had our game against Oldham called off three times, one against Keighley cancelled and then last weekend’s Northern Rail game at South Wales,” bemoaned Stankevitch.

“I honestly don’t know how we’ll go; we could be okay, we could be terrible.

“I don’t want to under-sell us, because we’ve had a great pre-season, but we’ve no way of knowing how that is going to translate into a competitive match.

“Halifax have got some great players and while I’ve a fair idea how they’re going to play I’m not sure that’s going to be a massive help.

“Sometimes, players like that are just too good.”