9th October 2017, 19:59
MITCHELL MAKES PERMANENT MOVE TO HORNETS FROM WARRINGTON
Rochdale Hornets have signed Lee Mitchell on a permanent deal for the 2018 season, following a successful loan spell at the end of the 2017 campaign.
Rochdale Hornets have signed Lee Mitchell on a permanent deal for the 2018 season, as he joins from Warrington Wolves.
The forward was on loan at the club for the Super 8’s having featured a number of times on dual-registration in 2017.
He ended the year with 16 appearances for Hornets, and admits that the playing group at the club helped make his decision to sign for the new season.
“Being involved with this group of lads really persuaded me,” Mitchell commented.
“I saw potential in us as a group, and I really enjoyed playing with everyone.
“Playing every week has helped persuade me as well.
“The group really welcomed me in, because it was quite hard at first because I was a bit of an outsider.
“You get that reputation of being a Warrington player, but that’s not what I am about, that’s just the way it gets portrayed sometimes.
“The lads welcoming me and getting to play every week and enjoy it again really swayed me to stay.”
He has represented a number of clubs during his career, starting at Warrington before featuring for Leigh Centurions in 2010.
He made one more appearance for the Centurions the next year, after spending some time with London Broncos before signing for Castleford Tigers.
A spell with Whitehaven then led to Mitchell moving to Batley Bulldogs, where an injury looked to have ended his career.
Re-joining Warrington at reserve grade gave him a chance to play once again, with Rochdale becoming the latest destination in his journey.
“I’ve been on a bit of a journey, and after I finished at Batley I did my ACL and I didn’t know if I was going to play again.
“Part-time is so demanding, and then I spent a couple of years at Warrington and I managed to get myself fit again for the reserves, but it didn’t really work last year.
“We didn’t have many games to play, and then when I got the opportunity to and I got the feel for it I almost re-found my enjoyment of why I started playing.
“I wanted to better myself every week”
It has been tough for Mitchell at times, especially before his loan move to the Hornets, as he had to cope with infrequent game time.
He felt that it sometimes affected his performance, but after getting a consistent run with Rochdale his enjoyment for the game returned.
“It was really tough and it had a really big impact on me, because when I did start playing consistently I didn’t think I was anywhere near fit enough.
“I started pre-season, played the Law Cup game against Oldham and I was flying.
“I felt really fit and I felt strong, I was coming off a good pre-season but then when I played against Sheffield later in the year I could tell that I hadn’t played regularly.
“I’d lost all my fitness and I felt like I was behind the eight ball, compared to the rest of the lads.
“It took me a few weeks to get into the rhythm of it, and I’d got used to having a game and two weeks to recover.
“Then, when it’s back-to-back games added to the demands of work it’s tougher, and it was a shock to my system.
“Once I got into it I really enjoyed it and that’s why I wanted to make that commitment again for next year, in order to better myself and the group.”
His relationship with Alan Kilshaw was a big reason why he made a permanent move too, as he is looking forward to working with him again.
“He’s really looked after me this year,” continued Mitchell.
“He gave me the opportunity to play when we didn’t have many games, and I’ve got on with him really well to be honest.
“I would like to work with him a bit closer as one of the older players in the group.
“I will be working hard, setting examples and working as hard as I can in training to get that level of respect from him and the lads.”
After a successful spell with Rochdale at the end of the 2017 season, he is now looking to take advantage of a full pre-season at the club so he can improve in the new year.
“For me now, I am in a really good place, and I have struggled.
“I’ve been on a journey from thinking I’d never play at a decent competitive level again, to playing every so often, and now I’m really enjoying it again.
“Towards the end of the season I was a little inconsistent, I had some really good games and some where I probably let myself down.
“All of that was to do with the year I’d had of not being fit enough to be at a Championship level.
“I’ve almost got the bug back again, I feel younger.
“I’m ready to rip into pre-season, get myself into some good shape, drop a couple of kilos and be really sharp ready for the start of next year.”
Kilshaw was delighted to have retained Mitchell on a permanent basis, and feels his experience in invaluable to the squad.
“Lee showed us what he could do at the back end of the season,” commented the Hornets boss.
“With a steady pre-season behind him I’m sure he will find that consistency in his game.
“His experience is great for the group, and his signing further shows our ethos of a good mix of youth and proven experienced Championship players.”
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