DEWSBURY RAMS have made home-grown prop Zach Johnson their second signing for the 2015 season after he agreed a one-year deal.
The former Shaw Cross Sharks forward has made an instant impact in the professional game and will link up with the club following an impressive spell in the Championship with Swinton Lions.
The 23-year-old BARLA international already has a try to his name at the Tetley’s Stadium, having crossed the whitewash for Swinton when they faced the Rams in July.
But following the end of the Lions’ season, Johnson says he can’t wait to pull on the red, amber and black of his home-town club.
“I’m a local lad who watched the Rams from the stands while I was growing up and it’s exciting to get the opportunity to play a part in their future,” he said.
“As soon as Glenn was in touch I was really keen to come down to talk to the club.
“The direction the club is going in was a massive influence, as well as the passionate fanbase down here.”
“Hopefully I can add another dimension to what is already a good-quality pack.
“With the level of coaching I will be getting, I want to be able to make an impact and fight for my place in the team.
“I feel close to Swinton following my spell there, but I’ve always felt close to Dewsbury and I really want to do well for the club and its fans.”
Rams head coach Glenn Morrison added: “Zach is a local lad and I’ve spoken about wanting local talent in this squad before – it’s what I want the Rams to be about – so he really fits the bill,” he said.
“I watched him when he played for the BARLA Yorkshire side alongside Jason Muranka and I was really impressed with him.
“He’s been one of the competition’s form forwards since joining Swinton and has really kicked on from the first time I saw him.
“I’m very pleased to have him on board and give a player like Zach the opportunity to play for his local team.”
The local amateur star is the second player to join the club this week after former Salford back-rower Toby Adamson penned a one-year contract to become Morrion’s third new arrival, following Matty Wildie and Johnson, ahead of the 2015 campaign.
“The main thing that attracted me to the Rams was Glenn Morrison,” Adamson said.
“I’ve only ever heard good things about him , plus he’s a back-rower so hopefully he’ll be able to help my game. The fans can expect me to give 110 per cent.
“The new league structure is really exciting for me as a player and I’m really excited about facing the Bulls and the Broncos, especially London, as my brother Luke has just signed for them.
“I’m really looking forward to taking on the challenges ahead as a Dewsbury player.”
Adamson has enjoyed a stellar 2014 with North Wales Crusaders, following on from last season when he picked up the club’s young player of the year award as the Welshmen finished top of Championship One, and Morrison admits the 24-year-old is a player he has had his eye on for number of years.
“I came across him when I was coaching the Wakefield 20s and 18s,” Morrison explained.
“I’ve kept an eye on him since then and he’s turned into someone I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on.
“He’s a good young player and he’s had a good upbringing after coming through the academy at Salford.
“He’s a very strong player too, he’s got good agility for a back rower and he can play good minutes as well.
“He’s still a young kid so he’s got his best years ahead of him and if we can improve him we could have a real star on our hands.”
The Rams host Workington on Sunday (3pm) in a reverse of last weekend’s regular season loss at Derwent Park.
Dewsbury lost that game 23-4 but Morrison opted to rest key players Anthony Thackeray, Tommy Gallagher and Karl Pryce ahead of this week’s sudden death encounter.
However, despite the loss Morrison insists it will help his side and not hinder them. He added: “We got what we needed to get out of last week’s game.
“Obviously we wanted to win but we knew we were already in the play-offs.
“I was able to rest players and hopefully those players can come back this week and give strong performances.
“We are at home this time and it is going to be our last home game of the season, so we want to put on a good show for the fans.
“We know that if we lose now we are out, it is as simple as that, so we know what we need to do.
“The whole season has been tough so it has prepared us well. We want to go in to the finals and get as far as possible.
“On our day we can beat any team in this competition so we have as much of a chance as anyone else in the play-offs.”
Dewsbury will be without the services of Ryan Wright for the play-off tie after the young hooker broke his thumb against Workington last Sunday.
The Rams have also handed new one-year deals to hookers Wayne Godwin and Ryan Wright.
Godwin joined the Rams ahead of the 2014 season following a fantastic career at the very top level of the sport with Castleford Tigers, Wigan Warriors, Salford Red Devils and Bradford Bulls.
He also represented his country and is rated as one of the most influential hookers of the Super League era.
‘Wagga’ made an instant impact in the Red, Amber and Black but his season was cruelly cut short when he suffered a broken arm against Featherstone in June, though he could yet complete a recovery in time to feature in the play-offs.
“Wagga is a very experienced player who has played a lot in the Super League and also at international level,” said Morrison.
“We all see what he does on the field but I really value what he does off the field too. He’s capable of coaching some of the young lads and is an invaluable asset at training.
“He’s been unfortunate to have suffered a broken arm this season, and while there’s a chance he could play again in 2014, I’m already looking at him for a big year in 2015.”
Wright had been attracting interest from other clubs following a series of promising performances for the Rams, but has chosen to put pen to paper on a new deal at the Tetley’s Stadium.
The 22-year-old former Wakefield Trinity Wildcats academy player followed coach Glenn Morrison to Dewsbury ahead of the 2013 season and made an instant impact.
Injury problems have limited Wright to 22 appearances so far in the red, amber and black, but his quick acceleration from dummy half and ability to punish a tiring defence have won him plenty of admirers.
“Wrighty has had a bit of a tough year with injuries, which forced him down the pecking order at stages of the season,” said Morrison.
“But he’s worked hard in training to get back into the squad and has reaped the rewards of that in recent weeks.
“We saw how valuable he is to us last year.
“When he was in the squad at the start of the season we were in good form, but when he got injured our form dipped.
“He’s still a young player and when he’s at full fitness he’s capable of applying a lot of pressure to the other guys in his position.”
Meanwhile, supporters will be given the opportunity to pose questions to Dewsbury Rams chairman Mark Sawyer and Morrison at a Fans Forum on Wednesday September 17.
The event begins at 7.30pm in the Royal Suite at The Tetley’s Stadium and is free for everybody to attend.
2015 season ticket and match details will be announced.