Twelve members of Cramlington Rockets Rugby League club will be pulling on the Newcastle Thunder strip in the coming months for a series of matches against academy sides from around the country, including several Super League sides.
With games against Cumbria Storm, Salford Red Devils, Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers coming up, the 20-man squad is also made up of players from Wallsend Eagles, Catterick Crusaders, Durham Tigers and Cockermouth Titans.
Of the 12, it is a familiar set up for Seth Kippax-Jones and Ryan Hull, who impressed in last year’s squad when playing up a year, and they are joined by Dean Carling and Owen Wright who just missed out last time around
Joining them is a host of new faces from the Rockets including North East U14s Player of the Year Mark Roberts and nominees, Alex Donaghy and Fergus Simpson.
The other names selected from Cramlington are a number that lifted the U14s crown last summer and includes Isaac Noakes, Jack Walker, Lewis Howe, Nathan Clemmett and Philip Brantingham,
With pre-season ahead of the U16s league starting in the coming weeks, the fact so many Rockets have spent the winter training together stands them in good stead.
The season begins at home on Sunday, January 22, with a noon kick-off against Cumbria Storm, before Salford Red Devils visit on Sunday, February 5, at Kingston Park Stadium.
That fixture will form part of Joe Brown’s Testimonial Day, acting as a curtain raiser to the Newcastle Thunder v St Helens select match, and giving the young players their first taste of playing in front of a large crowd.
Consecutive away fixtures against Wakefield, Leeds Rhinos and Cumbria in February will provide stern tests before the campaign concludes against Castleford Tigers at Kingston Park on Saturday, April 29.
The 20-man match day squad for first set of matches: Alex Donaghy, Dean Carling, Fergus Simpson, Isaac Nokes, Jack Walker, Lewis Howe, Mark Roberts, Nathan Clemmett, Owen Wright, Phillip Brantingham, Ryan Hull, Seth Kippax-Jones (Cramlington Rockets), Adam Hay, Josh Leighton, Tony Saywell, Tyler Walton (Wallsend Eagles), George Robinson, Callum Piert (Catterick Crusaders), John Grey (Durham Tigers, and Luke Broster (Cockermouth Titans).