London Broncos are pleased to announce that Academy products Ben Gray and Ben Pointer have signed 1st team contracts with the club and Sadiq Adebiyi has re-signed with the Academy.
Gray joined the Broncos Academy in 2015 from the RFL Midlands Academy whilst Pointer a Northampton junior was selected for the Academy after impressing in an open trial the club held before the season.
Both youngsters, Gray a prop and Pointer a hooker made their 1st team debuts this season alongside Adebiyi who was MOM against Hunslet Hawks in the Super 8’s competition.
Head coach Andrew Henderson commented on all three of his new signings. “It’s great that we as a club have been able to retain three of our exciting young prospects. It was a tough period when the boys stepped up into the first team at the back end of the season but I felt they all made a positive contribution to the squad. I saw enough in all three players that I felt they could develop into 1st team players in the future. Once again we are demonstrating that we will give youth a chance and their are clear pathways and opportunities for younger players at the club.”
However with no reserve grade competition currently sanctioned by the RFL opportunities are limited for a large number of young players across the country after they finish with the U/19 Academy, and Henderson recognises this.
“I was never a fan of the reserve grade being scrapped when it was. As a first team coach to have to make a decision on a player at 19 is ridiculous. Very few players at that age are ready to compete consistently over a 30 game senior competition as rugby league is a late developing sport. We need to nurture and develop our kids, to give them the best opportunity to be the best they can be and sustain long careers in the game. Unfortunately we haven’t had that luxury in the past couple of seasons and a lot of our youngsters have been exposed to much to 1st team action.”
Having a reserve grade team with a mix of young talent and a few older heads is great preparation for a young player on the development path to 1st team says Henderson.
” The reserve grade is perfect when bringing on young players. It gives them an opportunity to remain in our system. They will continue to be challenged at a decent standard of rugby league as well as having the chance to improve their game and gain confidence without the pressure that comes with 1st team rugby. To see that a number of clubs are in the process of setting up an informal reserve grade this season is exciting and hopefully it becomes a recognised and established competition. We will definitely look to put a team into this competition if it is up and running and we have the funds to do so in the future.”
Both Gray and Pointer will join the first team on Monday when the 1st team starts back for pre season training but it is believed that both players will likely join one of the Broncos partner club’s on loan when the season starts. Adebiyi along with Tuoyo Egodo will start pre season training with the Academy team under Head Coach Jamie Langley, however Henderson has invited both players to train with the first team at times throughout the pre season working around their education and traineeship commitments.