Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Honour and a Challenge; Kevin Delighted after Being Named Thunder Captain

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Honour and a Challenge; Kevin Delighted after Being Named Thunder Captain

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Purewal

THUNDER stalwart Kevin Neighbour has revealed his delight after becoming Gateshead's new captain. The powerful centre has more than 150 Thunder appearances under his belt but has never had the honour of skippering his home town club.

However, the qualified teacher will get his first taste as soon as January 19 when Thunder entertain Super League giants Hull Kingston Rovers after a three-day training camp with the Humberside outfit.

Thunder rugby director Chris Hood met Hull KR boss Justin Morgan at a recent training course, and persuaded Morgan to bring his top-level side to the North East for their final pre-season preparations.

The two sides will hold a semi-contact training match on Thursday, January 19 at Gateshead Stadium (kick-off 7pm) to close the camp.

With Thunder still taking on Castleford on January 24 this should prove a hectic and challenging pre-season, but also one that Hood knows is already exciting his players.

While Neighbour (pictured above) is Thunder's new skipper, he has Durhamborn Matt Barron as his vice-captain for the 2010 Championship One campaign.

Neighbour cruelly missed the majority of last season after a freak collision with referee Gareth Hewer in Thunder's home clash with Featherstone Rovers. A knee problem that seemed routine ended in surgery, ending Neighbour's season.

Raring to go after returning to full fitness then, Neighbour said all the Thunder players expect a hard season - but they know they can make their mark provided they keep working hard.

"The injury, the timing and the nature of it were all tough to take," said the new captain. "So it was a hard year personally, but it also gave me time to work hard on my fitness and get back into good shape after the surgery.

"Coming back after injury always gives you a boost but to receive the captaincy as well is a great honour and I'm really excited about the new season.

"I'm ready for the challenge ahead, and even though we all know it is a tough one, it's one we're already enjoying getting our teeth into.

"Leading by example and working closely with the coaches to keep us all focused will probably be the two immediate extra responsibilities, but generally as a group of players we just can't wait for the season to start. …

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