In the midst of a tough encounter against Featherstone Rovers on Sunday afternoon, a match which saw the teams draw 12-12 in each’s first outing of 2020, James Ford’s Knights saw four trialists from the city take to the pitch – including two 16-year-olds in the shape of Heworth ARLFC duo AJ Towse and Myles Harrison, both impressing in the Excel+ the Knights are so very proud of. Both players impressed through their attitude, desire, athleticism and coachability which is made all the more remarkable when you consider that their birthdates make them some of the youngest players of their age.
Towse started on the wing and, though targeted throughout his time on the pitch by Featherstone’s kickers who regularly punted 40/20 attempts, came through his test well. Indeed, head coach James Ford remarked on Rovers’ tactic, suggesting that Towse could use it as a learning point and develop his game. “It’s a common sense thing from their perspective,” Ford told The Press of the move by Featherstone’s halves. “I think he’ll learn from that and I think that he’s got a chance of being a good player.”
Harrison started the match on the bench but came on in the second-half, slotting in at full-back and, when Towse entered the field of play towards the end of the match when centre Jason Bass departed through a knock, it meant the Knights had two 16-year-olds on the field of play against a team who last year fell short in the Million Pound Game and have recruited well ahead of the 2020 campaign. The fact that Harrison more than held his own during his time on the field is a testament to the coaching he has received as well as his desire to succeed. “It’s much harder to come into the side as a full-back or a half-back or a hooker, and I thought that he did some good things,” Ford said post-match of Harrison’s showing.
Harrison is currently a student at York College and the club are hoping to attract more rugby league talent to the college to stregthen and build the York College Knights to provide an opportunity for players to develop in an environment fitting for their stage of development.
Speaking of both players’ displays on their maiden outing in the amber and black – indeed, their first ever open age match – Ford was impressed: “I thought that they handled themselves really well and I hope that they’re really proud of their efforts. I think that they did a lot better than I would have done at 16. I hope they read that and hope that they genuinely believe it.”
Everyone at the Knights has great pride in AJ and Myles and are pleased for not only the players but the two families, Heworth ARLFC and everyone else who has played a part in helping them reach this stage.
Both Towse and Harrison impressed in the Excel+ program recently and the fact they were handed trials by the club and have played for the club as a result is a mark of how important a player pathway for the Knights is to getting local talent involved with the club. That, however is not the sole aim of the program with the club aiming to increase the number of players playing the sport by making it fun and developing players at their own rate.
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