THE start of the new season is rapidly approaching and there has been further good news from the North Wales Crusaders’ camp.

The Colwyn Bay-based Crusaders have confirm the re-signing of 35-year-old Jono Smith, who has penned a new one-year-deal at the club until the end of the 2024 season.

Smith started his career with North Wales Crusaders back in 2012, with stints at Rochdale Hornets and Barrow Raiders in between.

Famous for his fierce offload and his presence on and off the field, Smith has clocked up 118 appearances.

He told the club’s website: “I really enjoyed coming back to training at the back end of last year and being around lads again.

“I’ve not really had much luck with injuries and other things since I came back to the club, so I’m hoping I can just play as much as I can this season and enjoy every minute of it, in what will more than likely be my last season.”

Crusaders’ head coach Carl Forster added: “Jono is huge for the group.

“His experience is so valuable to the younger players, and he’s brilliant for us on and off the field.

“Hopefully this season he can have an injury free year and get more minutes on the field.”

Meanwhile, continuing the busy spell at the club, Crusaders have agreed terms with 28-year-old forward Adam Wilkes, who has put pen to paper on a one-year deal.

Wilkes has spent all of his career at amateur club Leigh East and last season, he captained the side to the National Conference League final against Millom.

Wilkes has also received call ups for Lancashire and England Lions U23s, while he has represented England Lions open-age on a tour of South Africa.

Wilkes said: “Carl approached me before pre-season started, and asked me to come on board.

“I was made up he got in touch and he’s given me this opportunity.

“I’ve trained all pre-season and am really looking forward to getting on the field and seeing what this season brings.”

Forster added: “He’s come in with so much enthusiasm and energy, he’s at the front of a lot of the conditioning and giving pre-season a really good go.

“I’m excited to see him on the field and what he can bring to the group.”

Also agreeing to remain with the club for another year is Scottish international Jake Bloxham.

The 19-year-old appeared twice last season, with his last appearance coming in the convincing 42-10 victory away to Cornwall.

Bloxham played his junior rugby with St Helens-based amateur side, Blackbrook, and was previously on a scholarship with St Helens as well as being part of the Scotland U18s set up.

On signing his one-year new deal, Bloxham said: “Last season was a massive learning curve for me.

“I believe I am ready to show the fantastic fans and staff at the Crusaders that I am ready for a big 2024.”

Forster said: “Jake’s a good young lad who’s come from a good system.

“He did well to feature last year, and is continuing to learn really well.

“Jake’s got a very good skill set and with a full pre-season under his belt, he can challenge for more minutes this season.”

North Wales Crusaders will open their season at Colwyn Bay’s Stadiwm CSM on Sunday, January 28 when they host Championship side Swinton Lions in the 1895 Cup.