PHIL Joy can look ahead to a massive year of sport and study after signing his first pro contract with Oldham RL Club.
The 21-year-old former Waterhead prop becomes Roughyeds’ third close-season signing behind new-boy Josh Crowley, also 21, and highly-rated half-back Jamie Dallimore, whose contract was up for renewal.
Joy’s one-year deal was reward for an outstanding 2012 season in the reserves, followed by impressive performances at Championship One level in the first team’s last two games at Gateshead and Workington.
He will now be striving to command a regular first-team place in 2013 while studying for his final examinations at Leeds University in pursuit of a BSc joint-honours degree in maths and economics.
If he can meet those academic targets he then plans to do a Masters degree in banking and finance with a view to becoming one of the men in suits in the financial sector.
“It’s going to be hard work,” said the former Bluecoat School pupil, “but I’ve studied and played rugby since I first went to Waterhead when I was nine, so in that regard it won’t be anything new.
“I travel daily to lectures in Leeds, but I’ll be home in plenty of time for evening training.
“I had a taste of first-team rugby at the end of last season, and it went down nicely. I’m aiming to get the benefits of a big pre-season and then to show what I can do in the warm-up games.
“On my senior debut at Gateshead I felt the game was slower than reserve-team rugby, and not as physical.
“The Workington game was completely different. It was tough and intense and far more organised. Players on both teams ran good lines and knew who to target in the opposition’s defensive line.”
Joy, who stands 6ft 3in and tips the scales at 16st 7lbs, won two reserve team player-of-the-year awards and satisfied club officials that he had the potential to become the latest of the club’s crop of youngsters to perform well at senior level.
He joined the reserves for the 2010 season, but missed the whole of the 2011 campaign because of a knee injury and then returned to the club early this year to make a huge impact in the reserves’ front-row.
Said chairman Chris Hamilton: “He grabbed his first-team chance with both hands and looked very comfortable indeed at that level.
“He was rewarded with his first pro contract, but I’m certain it won’t be his last. We have very high hopes for Phil, whose work ethic is second to none.”