In the latest of a new series as a part of our match preview line-up, we will be looking at 5 players in the opposition line-up to look out for once they take to the field against the Cougars at the weekend.

We move on to the next edition of the ‘Ones To Watch’ series with Sunday’s opponents at Cougar Park, the Rochdale Hornets.


Veteran hooker Sean Penkywicz is once again proving age is just a number as he continues to show why he is one of the best hookers outside of Super League.

Wiley, dangerous, and always a threat out of dummy half and near to the try line, the Welsh international leads the Hornets from the front foot.

Joining Rochdale ahead of the 2020 season from Workington Town, Matt Calland wasted no time at all appointing ‘Penky’ as his new captain.

Making near 400 career appearances for his various clubs and country, Penkywicz knows what it takes to get out of this division after being a member of the Toronto Wolfpack’s 2017 League One winning squad.

Now into the 22nd season of his long and illustrious career, the battle of the nines between Penkywicz and Kyle Kesik could be the difference between the two sides come Sunday afternoon.


Welsh international prop forward Gavin Bennion re-joined the Hornets prior to this season for what is now his third spell with the club.

Re-uniting with his former Chairman at the Swinton Lions, Andy Mazey, the signing of Bennion was seen as a major coup for Rochdale with a number of top end Championship clubs reportedly interested in his services.

Having had Super League appearance with Salford, the Prop originally joined Rochdale ahead of the 2017 season from the Mackay Cutters in Australia with his performances earning him a place in Wales squad for that years Rugby League World Cup.

Bennion the moved onto Swinton and whilst with the Lions, established himself as one of the Championship’s must watch forwards as he continued to impress in the competitive second division and helped Swinton to a 9th place finish in 2019 before representing Wales in the World Nines tournament.

Covid brought a premature end to his 2020 season, which allowed Mazey and Calland to swoop and bring him to Spotland for this year.


The vastly experienced winger offers plenty of Super League experience to a Hornets side filled with both youth and experience.

A product of the famed Wigan academy, Ainscough made instant headlines when handed his first team opportunity during the 2008 season by the Warriors which finished with him representing the England academy on their tour of Australia.

Loan spells at Widnes and Castleford aided his development before he moved to Odsal and signed with the Bradford Bulls in 2011 where he quickly became a fans favourite during an otherwise dark period for the club.

He then headed to Australia before returning to these shores with Whitehaven and then Batley, where he would make Mount Pleasant home for four seasons but is probably best remembered for the viral video of a kick during a play-off match against Featherstone.

He then joined the Hornets ahead of 2019, scoring 10 tries despite the clubs relegation, and has become a key member of Matt Calland’s squad offering leadership and experience off the wing and re-forming his wing-centre partnership from Batley with Lewis Galbraith for this year.


Half-back Danny Yates has returned to the Crown Oil Arena in 2021, for what is now his third spell with the Hornets.

And Yates will be looking to recreate the success of his previous two spells have been a key member of both Rochdale’s 2013 and 2016 promotion winning sides from this division.

Highly touted as a youth player at both club and international level with St Helens and England, Yates first spell at the club was on dual registration in 2013.

Following his departure from the Totally Wicked Stadium, the Hornets acted quickly to secure his services and were duly rewarded as Danny would win the League One Young Player of the Year award in 2016 as Rochdale stunned the Rugby League world by beating Toulouse to be crowned League One Champions.

A local lad with a great skill set, his performances at Championship level earned a move across the Pennines to the Batley Bulldogs under Matt Diskin and then Craig Lingard before he returned ‘home’ to Spotland for the new campaign.


The backrower is a familiar face in opposition colours at Cougar Park after his many visits over the years as a member of the Halifax reserves side.

Known for his ability to switch positions at ease, and the awkwardness he can cause opposition defences, Syme made the decision to join the Hornets on a permanent basis ahead of the 2020 season following two separate loan spells at the Crown Oil Arena prior to that.

Despite Rochdale’s relegation during 2019, Jordan made 15 appearances on loan and earned rave reviews for his performances as Matt Calland acted quickly to secure his services on a permanent basis as they look to bounce back from dropping into the third tier.

Prior to his loan stints with the Hornets, Syme made a handful of first team appearances for the Halifax Panthers but couldn’t earn himself regular game time with intense competition for places at The Shay.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the forward volunteered on the frontline with the NHS as a member of the protecting department at Calderdale Hospital.

By Joshua Chapman