Sale Sharks announce biggest ever academy signing

ELEVEN OF THE NORTH WEST’S BRIGHTEST RUGBY TALENTS WILL JOIN THE CLUB’S SENIOR ACADEMY NEXT SEASON. SEVEN PLAYERS HAVE SIGNED FULL-TIME DEALS, WHILE FOUR ARE ON BURSARY CONTRACTS. 

Sale Sharks has signalled its commitment to identifying and developing the very best North West talent after 11 of the region’s brightest young stars signed contracts to join the club’s Senior Academy set up. 

The club has agreed seven full-time contracts, and four bursary contracts, in what is the Sharks’ biggest ever intake of academy players. 

Among the full-time signings are England under 18s Tristan Woodman and Charlie Wardle, with fellow international Ben Motamed agreeing a bursary contract, which will allow him to play for Sharks alongside his university studies.   

Tristan, from Lytham, and Ben, from Chorlton, starred for England as they remained unbeaten in the recent under 18s Six Nations Festival. 

Bowdon-based Charlie was part of the side that faced France in March. 

Hooker Harry Thompson, back-rows Will Riley and Huw Davies, second-row Ellis Causey, and prop Patreece Bell make up the rest of the full-time contracts, while prop George Arnold, back-row Yande Nkonge and centre Aaron Pope join Ben on bursary deals. 

Among the 11 are three players from the Isle of Man, four from Greater Manchester, three from Lancashire and one from North Wales. 

Sharks Academy Manager Fergus Mulchrone said: “We’ve had so much talent to select from this year and this is the club’s biggest academy intake ever. 

“All the schools and junior rugby clubs that are affiliated with these boys have put a lot of work into them. We have contact time with these boys once, maybe twice a week throughout the year but the main body of the work is done at schools and clubs.  

“They are a product of those environments that they’ve come through, not just ours, so huge recognition to all of them because they’ve done a fantastic job. 

“It’s tough to say whether we’ll see any of the lads pushing for first team spots anytime soon – we need to see how they come in and adapt to the first team environment and full-time schedule. I’d like to think that all the ones coming in full-time will get some loan rugby in the national leagues next year so that will be a really good test for them. 

“The physical, tactical, and technical development needed in rugby means that boys often don’t break through to the Premiership until the age of about 21-22. In that time, you can come out of school, get a degree, so education is an important consideration for us.   

“Although some of the full-time player will study alongside their training, we want to keep an eye on these guys going off to university, and to carry on developing them for longer. The university pathway is becoming a stronger and stronger option for us to track their development over the next three years.” 

THE FULL LIST OF PLAYERS AWARDED SENIOR ACADEMY CONTRACTS: 

Harry Thompson, 18  

Hometown: Ballasalla, Isle of Man   

School/Club: Kirkham Grammar & Nomads RUFC  

Position: Hooker   

Will Riley, 18   

Hometown: Altrincham   

School/Club: Kirkham Grammar & Altrincham Kersal RUFC  

Position: Back Row  

Tristan Woodman, 18  

Hometown: Lytham  

School/Club: AKS & Fylde  

Position: Back Row

Ellis Causey, 18  

Hometown: Wigan  

School/Club: Kirkham Grammar & Liverpool St.Helens RUFC  

Position: Second Row 

Charlie Wardle, 18  

Hometown: Bowdon   

School/Club: Altrincham Grammar School & Bowdon RUFC  

Position: Fly Half

Patreece Bell, 17  

Hometown: Port St Mary, Isle of Man  

School/Club: Kirkham Grammar & Southern Nomads RFC  

Position: Prop

Huw Davies, 18  

Hometown: Bethesda, North Wales  

School/Club: Kirkham Grammar & Bethesda RFC  

Position: Back Row

BURSARY (UNIVERSITY) CONTRACTS 

George Arnold, 18   

Hometown: Eccles   

School/Club: Manchester Grammar & Eccles RUFC  

Position: Prop

Ben Motamed, 18  

Hometown: Chorlton  

School/Club: Manchester Grammar & Wilmslow RUFC  

Position: Centre

Yande Nkonge, 18   

Hometown: Preston   

School/Club: Kirkham Grammar & Fylde RUFC  

Position: Back Row

Aaron Pope, 18  

Hometown: Douglas, Isle of Man   

School/Club: Kirkham Grammar & Douglas RUFC  

Position: Centre  

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