Wakefield Wildcats are delighted to announce academy graduate Ben Shulver has today signed a full-time professional contract with the club thanks to Club 1873.
The 19-year-old debuted for the first team in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup victory over Hemel Stags at the weekend after rising up through the ranks after joining Wakefield at the age of 16.
Shulver is the first player to sign a full-time contract thanks to Club 1873 where supporters pay just £2 a week to support the academy structure at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
The prop is a former Hunslet Warriors player and has committed his future until the end of the 2014 campaign.
Shulver says his hard work has paid off after putting pen to paper with the Wildcats.
“I’m very, very proud. From when you are small it’s all you think about doing and when you’re 12 and going to all the cold away games on a Sunday to doing this in the first team it really is unreal.
“I’m very pleased, coming through the ranks here and I owe a lot to the club. I had nowhere to go when I was 16 and this club took me in and I will try and do my best for the club.
“I came on the last year of the scholarship at 16 then I got a contract off that which was lucky because I had an injury and only had three scholarship games. I still managed to get a contract then after that I got another contract for the academy.
“I got the under 18s Players’ and Coaches’ Player of the year last year and it was an alright season but we’ve done better this season with new coaches. It’s much more structured this campaign.”
The forward has certainly been a standout performer in the under 19s competition and he assesses his debut amongst discussing his route into the first team squad.
“My first game went alright, I think I got more game time than I expected. I thought I’d only get the last 10 minutes and going over for a try I forgot everything, I forgot how to put the ball down but it felt good.
“I would say I am more suited to front-row, I was back-row throughout all amateur then I just played one game at prop and I’ve stayed there until now.”
“Anybody can make the push to the first team, you have to do the job to the best of your ability and make sure you’re doing the best you can all the time and wait for your opportunity. Rich (Agar) asked me to come down and train for a few weeks when Kirmo was injured and I took that opportunity and went on from then.
“I wanted to train all the time and I didn’t want a job, I just wanted to concentrate on my rugby so I put everything into this and it’s a gamble that’s paid off.
“My aim is to get a new contract before this one runs out. I want to put some size on and we’ll go from there next year.”
Wildcats head coach Richard Agar commented:
“He has made a lot of progress over the last 12-18 months. He’s been training alongside the first team now for a good five or six weeks. He’s a raw talent but the kid has a terrific attitude and works really hard. He’ll give himself a good of a shot as he possibly can.
“Scoring on debut was a super moment for Ben to be on the end of a try and run the 30 metres under the posts in front of our home fans, it was a special moment for him.
“He has some filling out to do. He’s at a point where he needs to develop a physical aspect and get a bit more size on him but he’s got the frame to do it and he’s made significant progress in that area over the last six months so we’ll keep working at that and he’ll give himself a super chance because of his terrific work ethic.”
Wildcats Chief Executive, James Elston was delighted that Club 1873 has enabled the club to sign one of the clubs promising youngsters on a full-time deal.
“It’s fantastic news that thanks to members of Club 1873 we’ve been able to give a local youngster the opportunity to become a full-time professional with the club and take the next step towards becoming a Super League player.
“When we launched the Club 1873 lottery scheme it was always the aim that we would get to the day where it allowed us to sign one of our bright young talents. Today is the first of what we hope is many more to come and with more people signing up then we can continue to provide our brightest local talents with the chance to live their dreams of becoming professional players.”
Club 1873 is the Wildcats lottery which costs just £2 a week and has a weekly jackpot of £250, two mega draws a year with a £2,000 prize up for grabs as well as daily and matchday prizes.
You can join Club 1873 today by visiting any of the Wildcats retail outlets at the Stadium Box Office, Ridings Centre or Trinity Walk or alternatively call 01924 211611 or for more information click HERE.
This is Wakefield. Together We Are Stronger.