Blow for Sheffield chief Wade as Tigers star Sam agrees late deal to remain at Tigers, as the ‘Richmond effect’ continues

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Sheffield have been knocked back at the final hour in their attempts to sign Sheffield Tigers star Sam Whitworth, after the hooker decided to stay at Dore Moor.

Whitworth was on the verge of moving to Abbeydale earlier this week, and even trained with the club.

But the hooker was presented with a counter-offer to stay at Tigers, and has decided to stay and fight for his place.

The news is a blow for Ben Wade, Sheffield’s Director of Rugby, who must now actively pursue other targets before the season opener against Pocklington in just over a week’s time.

Wade planned to make Whitworth an integral part of Tigers’ back row this season, but insists that he has other targets in mind - including a front-row forward.

“These things happen at amateur level rugby,” Wade told the Telegraph.

“Sam came to training with us and looked bright, but also admitted he wanted time to think about the other offer.

“I can’t say what has happened, but it looks like Tigers have offered him something to persuade him to have another crack at higher league rugby so we accept that, but the door will remain open in the future for him.”

He added: “We will now move onto other targets to try and strengthen what we have.

“We have a good team, but we would like to add to our front row as well as a couple more positions.

“Hopefully we can get something done before the Pocklington game.”

Sheffield stepped up their preparations for the new season with a 21-13 win over Middlesbrough in the preliminary round of the Yorkshire Cup.

Wade wants his players to “hit the ground running” when they make the short trip across Yorkshire next Saturday, but also admits there is still work to do.

“There have been a lot of changes, and it isn’t easy trying to get that consistency straight away,” he said.

“We can always improve, but we also have to be realistic.

“It was a scrappy game against Middlesbrough, but every time we got forward we looked like scoring.

“We could have won by a much bigger margin and so for that, we have to be happy.

“We want to add a bit more structure and there are things to work on, and then hopefully we can hit the ground running against Pocklington.”

Sheffield Tigers’ Richard Joel, meanwhile, credited new chief Dan Richmond as a major factor in Whitworth’s decision to stay.

“It’s down to the power of Dan,” he said.

“You wouldn’t believe the difference at the club.”