The Wakefield Wildcats scholarship season gets underway this evening as they travel to take on Featherstone (kick-off 7.00pm) after receiving extra preparation from the Royal Marines.
The under 16’s face Rovers at the Big Fellas Stadium later on today and will be led by head coach Dave Winter and captain for the occasion Jordan Crowther.
The youngsters had a special training session last month leading into the 2013 campaign as Marine Aaron Johnson spent a full day with the Wildcats scholarship squad.
Crofton was the venue for the occasion on a cold, blustery day in February as Mne Johnson gave a presentation before putting them through their paces.
The presentation which was delivered to the squad incorporated a selection of videos which explained the role of a Royal Marine Commando before the strenuous fitness tests began.
Mne Johnson explains the reasoning behind the visit to Wakefield.
“Basically I’m part of the Royal Marines sports presentation team. There’s a group of us and I’m an ex-rugby league player, there’s two ex-professional footballers and a rugby union lad.
“What we do is go around different sports clubs from amateur to professional clubs and show lads another career path they could go down if they don’t make it to the professional level in sport.
“Being a rugby league lad myself I do a lot of the rugby league clubs and originally I got in touch with the RFL and asked for all the head of youth development coaches and through that I’ve been going through all the academy and scholarships.
“What we’ve realised is that within rugby league there’s an untapped source and potential recruits to become Royal Marines Commandos if they don’t make it down the professional route as a rugby league player.”
Mne Johnson conducted a gruelling fitness work-out, involving armed forces style drills and exercises as well as key teamwork skills. The Marine believes it was a trip well worthwhile.
“It was a good fitness session and I think the lads did really well and that’s all I can ask for really. Hopefully they learned quite a bit and they can take the health and fitness is a big part of being a young sportsman.
“Also, in general as young men it’s a big part of your life and it’s nice to keep yourself fit and hopefully what they’ve got out of it without paying for gym memberships they can go out and keep themselves fit in their own time with the exercises I’ve showed them today.
“Hopefully its successful, one lad came over to me at the end and said he’s applying and another lad saying he’s thinking about it so there’s two lads already.
“Sometimes it might not even be for a few years (until you want to join), like myself, I was at Leigh Centurions for a bit and the Royal Marines came and did something similar back then. That planted a seed in my head about the Marines.
“Brian McDermott is the Leeds Rhinos coach and he was a Royal Marine, so was Jordan James (who plays for Salford). There was a lad in the last Olympics that does Judo and there’s quite a few other lads that have gone on the Marines with a professional sporting background. For young lads these people are really good role models, especially people like McDermott who’s a local Wakefield lad.”
Wildcats utility scholarship player Will Hudson enjoyed the extra days training and is likely to be involved at the Big Fellas Stadium tonight, he added:
“I enjoyed it but it was really challenging. It was quite beneficial both before when we had our meeting and out here working too.
“The variety of fitness techniques helps because we can incorporate what they do into our training.”
Meanwhile under 15’s scholarship player Jack Carter admitted it was a tough session.
“It was very difficult but it was enjoyable to keep you fit. It was a little bit different to what we normally do in our fitness sessions so it was a good insight into what the Royal Marine Commandos do in their daily fitness routine.”
The 20-man squad to take on Rovers this evening:
Declan Brereton (Shaw Cross), Connor Clarke (Upton), Jared Copley (Westgate Wolves), Ben Cornell (Stanley Rangers), Jordan Crowther – (C) (Westgate Wolves), Joe Greiff (Westgate Wolves), Thomas Griffiths (Shaw Cross), Matthew Hick (Westgate Wolves), Kieran Holt (Stanley Rangers), Will Hudson (Stanley Rangers), Max Jowitt (Stanley Rangers), Aiden Kay (Shaw Cross), Tom Megretton (Stanley Rangers), Alex Parker (Westgate Wolves), Luke Powell (Shaw Cross), Jamie Robinson (Westgate Wolves), Callum Sampson (Stanley Rangers), Maverick Stacey (Westgate Wolves), Nathan Stone (Milford), Harry Swan (Westgate Wolves).
This is Wakefield. Together We Are Stronger.