North Wales Crusaders are delighted to announce that Jono Smith has returned to the club ahead of the 2021 campaign.

Smith was part of Crusaders’ squad for their debut season as a club back in 2012 and became an instant hit with the fans, winning the Northern Rail Bowl and iPro Sport Cup and securing promotion to the Championship during his time in Wrexham.

The 31-year-old has an impressive try-scoring rate for a forward, crossing for 45 tries in 81 appearances during his first spell at North Wales.

He grabbed five tries in Crusaders’ 74-14 victory over Hemel Stags in 2015, with Rob Massam the only other player to reach that tally in a single match.

After four full seasons at North Wales, Smith switched to Rochdale Hornets in the early part of the 2016 campaign and then moved to Barrow Raiders in 2018, plying his trade in Cumbria since.

But Crusaders head coach Anthony Murray has snapped up Smith ahead of the 2021 campaign as he returns to the club where his semi-professional career started.

On signing terms with the club for next season, Smith said: “I’d been wrestling with the idea of retiring, but I knew I would’ve missed it so I wanted to come back to Crusaders for one last hurrah.

“I’ve not come here just to make the numbers up. I’m a senior player now so I want to help the club challenge at the top end of the table and support some of the younger lads coming through.

“A few of the boys are just starting out at this level like I once was and I can hopefully show them a few tricks of the trade.

“We had a good core of a squad during my first spell and certain things happened, but the club’s in better hands now and the foundations have been laid for us to really kick on over the next couple of seasons.”

North Wales boss Murray added: “It’s a fantastic signing for us and a real statement for us to be able to bring somebody in of Jono’s ability.

“Jono was a fans favourite and I’m sure he will be again so it’s great to have him back.

“We’ve got a young, up-and-coming squad now so having players like Jono around is really important to help bring them on.

“I didn’t work with him for too long during my first spell as head coach, but Jono was always a great lad to have around the camp and he gives you everything.

“Jono has bags of experience at this level now and will be a vital player for us in 2021.”

NWC Rugby League