Stags coach Perkins snaps up two new players as squad takes shape

Hemel Stags club crest
Hemel Stags club crest

Hemel Stags have continued to strengthen their squad ahead of the 2015 season with the acquisition of two new players.

Liam O’Callaghan joins the club from Kingstone Press Championship outfit London Broncos, while star Australian hooker James Helliwell has also been snapped up by Stags coach Troy Perkins.

O’Callaghan returns to the Pennine Way Stadium after a spell in London and is delighted to be back among familiar surroundings.

‘I’m absolutely delighted to come back to the club were it all started for me,” said the youngster. “I am very excited about 2015 and the squad Troy is recruiting.

“I can’t wait to get started, and help my home town club build on the success of the previous two seasons.”

Perkins is equally pleased with the signing as he continues his recruitment drive ahead of a return to pre-season training on November 19.

“Liam is a Hemel junior and it’s great to have him back at the club,” said the combative Australian. “He is a back rower that has good skill and can play big minutes.

“He has spent the past few seasons down at London Broncos so he has been in a good environment and is a good addition to the squad.”

Helliwell, meanwhile, arrives at the Pennine Way Stadium with an excellent pedigree, having played rugby league at Sydney Roosters and rugby union for Randwick, while also appearing for Neath in Wales.

“James is a fantastic signing,” said Perkins. “I was looking for a hooker and in James I have someone that will do a great job in this position.

“He has played both rugby codes at a high level; he is really quick off the mark and has an exceptional passing game which has developed through playing scrum-half in union over the past two seasons.”

Helliwell is looking forward to the challenge ahead, adding: “I am very excited to join Hemel this season. I am looking forward to working hard with the boys to add to the club’s recent successes.”

Making way for the new arrivals, Evans Simons has signed a contract to play for Kingstone League 1 rivals Gateshead Thunder in 2015.

Simons, who joined Hemel from London Skolars at the start of last season, made a total of 21 appearances in 2014, scoring six tries and deservedly collecting the Coaches Player of the Season award.