Saturday rugby at Whitebank

Date published: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LOCAL rugby league fans who enjoy Saturday afternoon rugby can look forward to plenty of action at Whitebank in the next few weeks.

Starting this Saturday, May 29, the Roughyeds reserves play at Whitebank on THREE Saturdays in a row, against York City Knights, Hunslet Hawks and Sheffield Eagles respectively, each game kicking off at 3.00pm.

Admission is £4 adults, £2 concessions and free for under-16s and seats are available at no extra charge. Parking is £1. The club will be open, as will the refreshment hut inside the ground.

The Reserves to date have played three games, losing twice to Featherstone (42-30 at Post Office Road and 28-20 at Whitebank), but winning at York 26-18.

They will thus be seeking to complete a league double over the City Knights this Saturday when coach John Hough will be looking for a huge improvement on the performance the boys put up on their Whitebank debut when they watched by a crowd of nearly 300 fans — the reserve team’s best support for a long time.

Club officials are hoping there will be another good turn-out on Saturday to watch the club’s young hopefuls, several of whom are in their first year of two-year professional contracts and are hoping to emulate Ben Heaton, Chris Clarke and Scott Mansfield, who followed a similar route into the first-team squad.

Club chairman Chris Hamilton, meanwhile, has issued a ringing endorsement of the work being done at reserve-team level in order to give young hopefuls an opportunity to take the pathway to senior rugby and to follow in the footsteps of Clarke, Mansfield and Heaton.

They also joined the club as young trialists when Roughyeds relaunched their reserve team in 2008 with a mission statement to give youth, and especially local youth, a chance.

They were ultimately signed on two-year contracts covering 2009, which they also spent in the reserves, and 2010.

Coming up behind them in the production line are four players in their second season of reserve team rugby but in their first year of two-year contracts, namely Michael Ward, Austen Barrowclough, Jacob Kinney and Ross Coates.

In addition, Mark Smith is in his third year in the reserves, but his second on contract, and Ben Marsden (19) is in his first year of reserve team rugby but on a two-year contract covering 2010 and 2011.

Said Chris: “It was only at the back end of last season that Ben Heaton forced his way into the first team in such spectacular style, first at Dewsbury and then at York. And he walked off with an armful of awards at the end-of-season presentation night.

“Chris Clarke has made a big impression in the first team this season and has picked up at least two man-of-the-match awards.

“Scott Mansfield has been unlucky with injuries but he has worked really hard, especially in the last pre season, and has earned himself a place in the squad. He has made four first team appearances this year and he is never far away from the match-day squad. He was 18th man last Sunday.

“These three local boys came to us full of hope and ambition as relatively unknown 17 year olds and everybody at the club is very proud of their progress to senior rugby and is delighted for the boys.

“Hopefully, there will be more gems coming through from the boys currently playing in the reserves, some of whom are already on contract in their second season of reserve team rugby, as Ben, Chris and Scott were last year.

“At this stage of their development a lot hinges on the players themselves — whether they have the desire to make it; whether they are prepared to make sacrifices; whether they are prepared to commit themselves to all the hard work that progress up the ladder inevitably entails.

“Chris, Scott and Ben demonstrated all those qualities in abundance and it was as a result of that — as well as rugby ability, obviously — that they became professionals and then graduated to the first team squad.

“What this shows to everyone else — be they lads currently in the reserves on contract; non-contract reserves who are striving to get there; or local lads who might be thinking of giving it a go at their home-town club — is that we have re-established a path to the first team via our reserve team set up.

“When we started up the reserves again in 2008 we always said we would give opportunities at senior level to the boys we felt could make it and Chris, Ben and Scott are the first to take advantage of that.

“Not only are they in the senior squad but all three are usually in the match-day 18 or very close to it.”