Patience is a virtue for any young player trying to break into the Sharks first team but very few have had to bide their time more than Arron Reed. Now into his fifth season as a part of the Sharks first team picture, the 22-year-old has played almost 50 times for the club, but until this season, he has never considered himself a regular part of the team.
This season that has all changed. Since he scored at the AJ Bell against Leicester in January, the Chester-born speedster has made the number 11 shirt his own – and now he’s targeting a strong end to the season.
“At the start of the season I set myself a target of becoming a ‘selection winger’”, he said. “I didn’t want to just get picked when someone else was injured or unavailable. I wanted to start on merit and it feels like that’s where I am now.
“I’m into my fifth year here now and it’s always felt as though I’d play a game or two, play well, and then get dropped when someone else came back.
“It puts the pressure on because you always feel like you can’t make a mistake. Now I’ve had a run of games and it I feel more comfortable as part of the team. The pressure is always on because you know there are people wanting your place, but Alex and the coaches want us to be brave and not think about making mistakes.
“They tell Tom Roebuck and I to use our pace, to go looking for work and to try and express ourselves.
“I’d love to play international rugby but I’m not thinking about that. The challenge for me is to keep working as hard as I can to keep improving, keep getting the best out of myself and help the team. If we all do that then we know that as a team we can achieve anything together.
This has been my best season so far and I’m loving my rugby. Confidence is high and it’s a really exciting place to be at the moment.”
Arron is one of several young Sharks players to come through Kirkham Grammar School, and he knows all about the life of an academy player at the club.
That’s why he kept a keen eye on the Stoop on Tuesday night to watch some the Sharks of the future star against Harlequins in the Premiership Rugby Cup.
“I can remember what these games are like,” he said. “You’re desperate to impress. It’s a brilliant chance for some of the lads who maybe aren’t part of the matchday squad week-in, week-out.
“We train against these lads every day and I know how talented they are. It was so good to see the backs go well especially.”
Competition for places will be ramped up again next season with the arrival of fellow winger Tom O’Flaherty from Exeter Chiefs. But Arron only sees the arrival of the 27-year-old as a positive.
He added: “It’s brilliant. He’s a fantastic player and someone I can learn so much from. He’s similar to me in the way he plays so I can’t wait to see him in action. Competition for places is a good thing because it drives us all on to be better.
“But we’re not thinking about next season just yet. We’ve still got so much to play for this season in the Premiership and the Champions Cup and we’re focused on making it a good end to the season.”