New captain Rory Schlein to put all his focus on Berwick Bandits this season

Rory Schlein will be laser-focussed on his role with Berwick Bandits in 2024.
Berwick Bandits' new captain, Rory Schlein. Picture by Taz McDougall.Berwick Bandits' new captain, Rory Schlein. Picture by Taz McDougall.
Berwick Bandits' new captain, Rory Schlein. Picture by Taz McDougall.

The five-times South Australian champion is back for a second season at Shielfield Park but has resisted the temptation to double up in the Premiership.

Having reversed his 2022 retirement, the 39-year-old was a surprise winter signing but ended his comeback campaign with number one on his back in addition to reaching the Premiership play-offs with Wolverhampton.

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But doubling up in addition to holding down a full-time job and his commitments coaching the GB Youth Academy saw him spread thin at times.

“When I decided to return to racing, the plan was to have a full-time mechanic but for one reason or another that just didn’t happen,” he said.

“At times it was a case of coming home from work, spending six hours in the workshop, getting up the next morning for work and then going to wherever I was racing.

“It spread me a bit thin at times and I spoke to Scott Nicholls about how the decision to concentrate on the Championship worked for him.

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“I had a couple of tentative inquiries from clubs but I’m happy with the package that (Berwick owners) Scott and Jamie (Courtney) have put together for me.

“Despite the year in retirement I always felt on the pace in 2023 but just couldn’t find consistency in the early months of the season, especially with my gating.

“Then I damaged a kneecap crashing at Oxford and reaggravated it at Berwick, which didn’t help. Neither did Berwick’s fixture list. At one point I went six weeks without a home meeting!”

Schlein has taken over the captaincy from Leon Flint after the Berwick-born GB star switched to Glasgow.

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It’s a role he has held at Belle Vue, King’s Lynn and Wolverhampton in the past and one he is relishing in a side which he feels will be at the right end of the table in 2024.

“I think we will be strong at home and very, very good away,” he said.

“I am excited about how strong we are down at reserve – initially with Bastian Borke and Freddy Hodder – and that will inspire the second strings to stay on the ball.”

Berwick’s season opens with home and away challenge matches for the Border Trophy over Easter.

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