In Channing’s own words, London is “the club that set the platform I needed to create a career playing the game I love.” It’s been a long road to his return – three years away, followed by a lengthy spell on the sidelines following neck surgery. Now he’s back, he couldn’t be happier.
How does it feel to be back at London Broncos?
“Yeah it feels great! I mean it’s coming home isn’t it? I’m back with my family, back with all my friends and back with a few of my old friends, like Keiran Dixon, which is great, and some of my Welsh teammates too which makes it all so much easier. I’ve come back to where it all began, and thankfully it’s a bit more successful than last time.”
You had an injury but are now fully fit – how does it feel to be healthy and playing consistently?
“It was a long nine months that it ended up being. Fortunately it was mainly through the pre-season so I didn’t miss more games than I was already going to miss.
“Getting back in the team and Hendo showing the faith in me that he has, and his believing in me has meant so much and I enjoy every single minute I play for the team. Anyone who has sat on the sidelines for the same amount of time that I did will tell you the same thing – as soon as you are fit again you are just yearning to play.”
The fans are obviously happy you are back, but what do you think you bring to the team?
“It was really good timing for me I would say, as the team had started to turn things around just as I got fit. I slotted straight back in with the boys, especially with Keiran and I playing so well together.
“We are best mates off the pitch as well as on so that combination will obviously help. I try to do as much talking as I can, and with the fellas in the middle getting fatigued in the way that they do I try and help out as much as possible.”
Do you think the relationship you have with Keiran brings something to both of your games?
“Yeah, definitely. We came through together so we’ve played together since we were a lot younger. I think I was eighteen when I started here and he had already been here a while.
“From eighteen to nineteen we were playing together on a regular basis in the under twenties and then the first team as well. I think it gives us that better connection and we know what each other is going to do at any one time. There’s a real bond on and off the field which only helps both of us I would say.”
What is it about playing here for London that makes so many ex-players speak so highly of it?
“I think because usually players have come from a long way away. To be fair there are quite a few London boys here now, but in the main they have been from up north or from abroad and that creates almost a micro community here at the club.
“You spend a lot of time with each other, the wives and girlfriends all spend a lot of time with each other too as they don’t know anybody else in the city. Everybody is brought a lot closer to each other as its all you have but it always seems to work out well and they make relationships which draws them back.”
You are in Ealing now, but where were you when you first played here?
“Well I lived in Kingston as we played, then, at the Stoop in Twickenham. I have some great memories of those times too. We had three player houses in Kingston and when I was coming through there were quite a few of us breaking into the first team from the academy.
“Again I lived with Keiran and also with Will Lovell at that time. We were doing things together all the time – even the stupid things as we were nineteen and had been given our own house to live in in the middle of Kingston. I was a very good time, interesting at times but on the whole a great part of our lives.”
The team are now 8 from 8 so where do we go from here?
“We’ve got three massive games coming up that could, again, define our season in Toulouse away, Featherstone Rovers here and Hull KR away.
“Toulouse have not lost at home so that’s one of our big goals to be the first team to win there this season. We feel if we carry on playing the way we are we could well go unbeaten for the rest of the regular season. Featherstone will want revenge for Summer Bash obviously, and then Hull KR are number one. They have some fantastic players in their ranks and a great coach in Tim Sheens but we want to take our game to them in the way that Bradford and Featherstone have in the last couple of games.”
Later this year there’s the little matter of the World Cup. Are you hoping to be on the plane to Australia?
“I spoke to John Kear at the end of last season before I had my neck operation and kept him informed as to how it was going and how long it would take as I was supposed to have played in the qualification round games.
“He told me then he was disappointed I couldn’t play but it was the nature of the beast and to let him know when I was back playing again. All I can now really do is carry on playing here with the London boys and hopefully he’s recognising that and I will get a place in the squad.
“I will admit it does help having other guys here who are also trying to get in the squad like Rhys Williams, Elliott Kear and Ben Evans, and if Dalton Grant is fit the Broncos could potentially have five Welsh players and these combinations can only help the Welsh side going into the World Cup games.”
We have some passionate fans, what would your message to them be?
“Thanks for being patient with us at the start of the season. Thanks for coming with us wherever we go. I know it’s a bit blunt but we don’t have the largest crowd out there, but the fans we do have we hear every week and we do hear you from the sidelines and that’s a great help to us. Please keep turning up for us and we’ll keep scoring the tries for you.”