After agreeing terms with the club for next season, Heworth ARLFC player Toby Warren told us of his delight at joining the club and his excitement at the challenges ahead.
“It’s obviously a great feeling,” he explained. “With the group of players and coaches we have this season I don’t see why we won’t be pushing for promotion and I’m just thankful and proud to be given the opportunity to be part of it.”
Warren’s rugby league journey began in 2016 when, after featuring in a tournament for Joseph Rowntree School, he joined New Earswick All Blacks but, outside of training, he admits it wasn’t until later that he started following the game. “I was pretty slow getting involved with rugby league outside of training and I think the first game I went to was the Knights against Toronto in the 2017 season,” he shared.
That merely whetted his appetite and, when asked about what made him fall in love with the sport, he took the chance to praise the coaches he’s had through his short career. “The passion shown by them and the players is huge. The fact that there’s always ways to improve and get better is another big thing for me and then the rugby league community in general,” he explained.
Further elaborating on his previous coaches and their impact on him thus far, Warren said: “At New Earswick I had Liam, John, Rich & Stu who all helped me find my feet in rugby taught me the basics and laid a foundation of skills for me to build on.
“At Heworth I’ve had Dan, Lee, Steve, Dave and Scott who all taught me the more technical things as I was older and playing with older players. They really helped develop my skills and my knowledge of the game.
In the Excel program, I had Fordy, Will and Adam and they, again, helped me build on what I already had and challenge me as I was playing with people a year up.”
You may be forgiven, therefore, that Warren would deem one of his coaches as the biggest influence on his rugby and, while praising their impact, the teenager, instead, named one of his friends. “I’d go with one of my closest mates Charlie Severs he’s always been the player in the team you want to be like and, when I joined Heworth, he’d help me develop my skills.
“He really taught me the roles of a back-rower, on and off the ball.
“My coaches, also, who’d always push me when I wasn’t giving it full effort which pushed me on to giving it my all every session,” he explained.
Warren’s deal with the first team squad for 2021 has come about through him impressing in the Excel program, funded and run by the York City Knights Foundation. On his experiences as part of it, Warren spoke highly of it. “My first Excel program was in 2018 and I learnt a lot more advanced skills which I took into my games on a Sunday,” he shared.
“I was really inspired by the players I met on the programme, including Greg Minikin, which made me realise how much I want to get somewhere in the game.”
That last statement highlights the ambition Warren has and, starting at the Knights, he is aiming for a healthy career in rugby league: “I want to have a long time in the game and, with the coaching staff at York helping me, I don’t see why that isn’t possible.”