Halifax Panthers have announced that local hero Ben Kavanagh has agreed to a new one-year contract with the club, ensuring his presence at The Shay until the conclusion of the 2024 Betfred Championship season.
Kavanagh, a forward born in Halifax, initially joined the Panthers in 2019, following successful stints with Widnes Vikings, Wakefield Trinity, and Hull Kingston Rovers.
Despite enduring a devastating dislocated hip injury during the 2020 pre-season, the 35-year-old back-rower has displayed sensational form for the club in recent years. His relentless determination to regain fitness showcased his unwavering commitment to Halifax Panthers, and he quickly established himself as a formidable threat to opposing defences on the edges.
Expressing his delight at extending his tenure at The Shay for a sixth season, Kavanagh remarked, “I’m happy with the news. Last year, I told myself maybe this would be my last year, but my body still feels good. I know I’m knocking on a bit, but I try to look after myself, and I’m good to go around again next year. Me and Simon briefly spoke about it, he just asked how my body was feeling, what I was thinking about doing, and would I be happy doing another year, and I ended up agreeing to that, so we’ll see how the body is next year and go from there.”
“This secures me for another 12 months so I can just focus on playing well. We’re starting to build some form now, and hopefully, we can kick on again, push towards the top of that league, and build some momentum into the playoffs.”
Representing his hometown club holds significant importance for Kavanagh, who aims to reach a milestone of a hundred appearances for Halifax, as he stated, “To represent my hometown club, I think I’m about 15 games off a hundred for Halifax, so hopefully, I can get that milestone before I finish off. I’ve struggled with some bad injuries over the years, but to make over 350 career appearances is a great achievement, and to be able to get 100 for my hometown club is something I’m really excited about.”
Simon Grix, the head coach of the Panthers, expressed his satisfaction with Kavanagh’s contract extension, stating, “We’re happy to have Kav on board for another year from a lot of angles really. Obviously, he’s been great for us for the last couple of years, especially since switching to the back row, which I think has probably extended his career as well. And coming back after such a terrible injury a couple of years ago, I think he’s done really well.”
Acknowledging Kavanagh’s consistent performance, Grix added, “He’s one of the first names on the team sheet, to be fair, pretty consistent. He’s in decent shape, he looks after himself well, and I think he’s still got another year in him definitely. He’s a local lad and ticks that box as well and also adds to what will hopefully be a smaller turnaround of personnel this time. I know over the last few years, for multiple different reasons, we’ve had quite a few changes, and we’re going to try to minimise that. There will be changes, there always is, but we’ll try to minimise that this time around.”
Grix emphasized the value of experienced players like Kavanagh, Bob Fairbank, and Adzy Tangata, stating, “Along with Bob and Adzy, he’s part of the fabric of this club and what this team has been for a long time, so I think it’s good to have their experienced prints on the next crop coming through. There’s a number of lads underneath them in age that, in all likelihood, all being well, they’ll be here a long time as well, so it’s sort of a passing the torch kind of process over time if you like. But each of them, in particular Kav, has still got plenty to offer, so yeah, I’m happy he’s on board.”
Describing the contract negotiation as an easy conversation, Grix highlighted the importance of Kavanagh’s enjoyment and local ties, stating, “It was an easy conversation, I think he’s enjoying it, and that’s a big factor in it, especially as you get older. That becomes more and more of a factor in your decision making. And obviously, being local, it fits, and I don’t think he’d play anywhere else. If there was nothing here, I don’t think he’d turn out for anyone else, so happy it’s done. And we’ve got it done early as well, which is good, so he can get on with his rugby.”