Perry Whiteley established himself as a key player for the Knights in 2019 as he helped the team to a memorable third-place finish in the Betfred Championship and, after signing new terms for the 2021 season, he told us of his delight at extending his stay with the club.
“I’m really pleased with the extension. The squad is looking stronger again and I’m really happy to be a part of it and to push myself even more,” he explained. On whether it was a tough decision to re-sign, Whiteley admits he didn’t have to think twice: “It was an easy decision to re-sign. The culture at the club is fantastic and we have high ambitions which I think are very achievable.”
When Whiteley signed for the club in August 2018, he was best known as a centre but, ahead of our return to the Championship, head coach James Ford had made the decision that the 27-year-old could be an asset for the team on the wing. “It was a strange one at first really, having not played wing for some time,” he said, reflecting back to his academy days with Huddersfield. “I enjoyed my first full year at the Knights and I feel I played some of my best rugby there so it’s a position I’m keen to continue and improve in.”
Of his goals for the 2021 campaign, Whiteley underlined his desire to develop further: “I want to top the performances from the 2019 season and become a leader for our back line.”
Knights fans will, of course, be looking forward to seeing Whiteley running down the flanks of the new LNER Community Stadium and, after seeing the recent images of our new home, he told of how taken aback with it he has been. “I’m really impressed with it. I’m certain the images won’t do it justice until we see it in person but it’s a massive statement for the club and I’m really looking forward to running out there.”
Whiteley himself missed what was played of the 2020 campaign through injury, something he admitted wasn’t easy when the team weren’t quite clicking on the pitch. “It was a really tough time for me not to be able to train with the boys or playing,” he explained. “Knowing I couldn’t or wouldn’t be involved for a while was really tough.”
Throughout lockdown, Whiteley, whose day job is working for a law firm in Leeds, was working from home and playing a lot of Xbox and is therefore understandably keen to get back to training for that sense of normality to return. “Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to pre-season,” he said. “It’s been the longest break I’ve had from playing since I can remember so it’ll be a relief to get back in training and to be around that environment.”
As a club, we have been taken aback by the incredible generosity of our 2020 Patrons and the continued hard work of Squadbuilder as the efforts of both have enabled the club to ensure a strong team will be on the pitch in 2021. Their support in this time is hugely appreciated and, as Whiteley states, it gives a huge boost to the players.
“It’s very generous from the huge number who donated their membership back to the club. They’re a real credit to the club and what it is about,” he explained. “On matchday they’re massive, even at away games. They really get the lads pumped up and I’m looking forward to having that buzz from them again soon!”