London Broncos coach Danny Ward intends to keep faith with the players who earned promotion for their Super League campaign in 2019.

Ward, who has taken the Broncos back to the top flight in his first season as head coach, hopes to add “a bit of quality” but says he is happy to reward the players who defied all expectations by finishing runners-up in the Championship and winning the Million Pound Game.

And one of the first names on his Super League squad list will be home-grown full-back Alex Walker, who was named as man of the match in the Broncos’ 4-2 win over Toronto at the Lamport Stadium despite dislocating three fingers, breaking one of them, inside the first minute of the match.
Danny Ward
“It was an unbelievable effort from the kid,” said Ward on the team’s return to Gatwick Airport on Monday morning. “He was outstanding all game.

“It was brave but it was a Grand Final, you just have to stay out there. I couldn’t take him off, I didn’t have another full-back. A bit of strapping and he just cracked on.”

Walker, 23, a Scotland international who made his Super League debut during London’s relegation season in 2014, is among a crop of highly-promising youngsters who have been brought through the club’s junior system who will now be given the chance to prove their worth at the highest level.

Ward added: “He’s really improved. He is one of a few good young London kids coming through and he’s made the full-back spot his own.

“I’ll sit down with the owners and the chief exec this week to look at next year but I’m happy to put my faith in this squad.

“I can’t see wholesale changes, we’ll add a bit of quality but I want to work with this group of players even more so at Super League level.”

The Broncos will receive £1million extra in central funding as a result of promotion and will be given special dispensation by the Rugby Football League to remain at the Ealing Trailfinders Sports Ground, which has a current ground capacity of just 3,020.

The Trailfinders were already planning to erect a new stand in the winter to add a further 1,040 seats and that will enable it to meet the RFL minimum requirement of 2,000 for Super League.

An RFL spokesman said “London Broncos’ ground does not currently meet the Super League minimum standards relating to seating capacity.

“Accordingly, in accordance with the RFL Operational Rules, the club sought dispensation to be eligible for promotion to the Super League.

“On the basis of the submissions made and supporting documentation provided by the club, the RFL Board determined that the club should be granted a dispensation.

“The dispensation is on the basis that the club will increase the seating at its ground to more than the minimum capacity required in advance of the start of the season.”

A return to Super League after a four-year exile is reward for the loyalty and patience of David Hughes, a northerner who joined the club’s board just before the advent of Super League in 1996.

Hughes twice stepped back, first in 1998 to allow Richard Branson’s Virgin group to take a major stake in the club, and then in 2005 when Ian Lenagan, now owner of Wigan, became chairman.

However, Hughes remained a fervent supporter and each time agreed to fill the breach and opted to keep the club full-time when they were relegated from Super League in 2014.

Hughes moved the nomadic club from Barnet two years ago, signing a three-year agreement to play at the home of rugby union side Ealing Trailfinders, but regularly play to crowds of under 1,000.

Hughes is confident attendances will rise significantly back in Super League.

“I’ve always said there is no Super League without London, that’s a fact,” he said. “We’ll welcome St Helens, Wigan and Hull, we’ve done it before.

“We’ve done it the hard way this time, it’s been a hard grind the last five or six years on my own, but I’m proud of that.”