AFTER making the step up to the semi-professional ranks over the off-season, North Wales Crusaders’ new recruit Pat Rainford will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of others at the club and take League 1 by storm, writes RYAN GOULD.

Crusaders have got an excellent record of providing players in the community game with the opportunity to chance their arm in League 1, with the likes of Kenny Baker going on to play higher up the rugby league chain.

Rainford made the switch to North Wales from his local club Leigh East in pre-season and started in the recent Challenge Cup wins over both Swinton Lions and Hunslet.

“I’m loving it and everyone’s been so welcoming,” said Rainford ahead of Saturday’s Colwyn Bay clash against Sheffield Eagles.

“Everyone’s helped me in their own way.

“I love my old club and all the lads there, but you can tell everything’s more professional at this level and the desire to win and be competitive is something like I’ve never experienced before.

“I’ve been getting the extra work in, doing a lot of passing drills and all the players have been giving me tips and pointers.

“I’m really grateful for this opportunity as I started pre-season as a trialist, but I’ve set a good base and earned myself a contract.

“I’m not taking anything for granted. I’ve worked hard to get into the team and I’m going to make sure I keep doing that every week so I’m hopefully in the side.”

Rainford certainly couldn’t have picked a better time to join the club, with the move to Colwyn Bay providing a real catalyst for Crusaders to press forward.

Not only did North Wales secure third spot in 2021, their best finish since the Championship campaign in 2014, but crowds grew significantly at Stadiwm Eirias after the switch from Wrexham’s Queensway Stadium.

And the hooker is hoping to play a part in what should be an exciting couple of years ahead for Anthony Murray’s men.

“I saw a lot of the back end of last season and we did really well,” added Rainford.

“Muzza always tells us it’s one game at a time so, if we compete, we can make sure we’re in with a chance of winning every game.

“We’re not setting any big goals, but we’ll certainly be going into each game with the aim of coming out on top and we’ll see where that takes us.”

Sheffield head to North Wales on the back of thumping Workington Town 54-4 in the Championship.

They had nine different try scorers, including Izaac Farrell, who also had a perfect day with the boot with nine conversions.

Tickets are priced at £12 for adults at Stadiwm Eirias for Saturday’s 1.30pm kick-off. It’s £10 for concessions, with U16s going free.

There’s one Super League match tonight with Leeds at home to Hull.