Three products of the Cramlington Rockets youth system have made their professional debuts for Championship 1 side Newcastle Thunder.
Having agreed terms during the week, Jake Woods, Kieran Bruce and David Weetman were named in the squad for the pre-season friendly against Super League side Widnes Vikings.
With a mix of senior and academy players selected, it was new Thunder coach Mick Mantelli’s first opportunity to see his new side in action.
England youth international Woods, 18, started at full back and enjoyed a 70-minute run out in which he took the kicking duties from the tee and had a hand in Thunder’s second try.
Meanwhile, half back Weetman and prop Bruce, both 17, featured from the bench, Weetman demonstrating some clinical passing complemented by the abrasive running lines of Bruce in the forwards.
A final score of 34-8 to a youthful Widnes side did not overshadow what was an exciting day for the Northumberland club, particularly the trios’ Cramlington coaches, including Jordan Robinson.
He said: “Today is a proud day for everyone. All three lads have worked hard to get here and it is down to their efforts as part of the academy that they have been given the chance today.
“I am sure today’s appearances will be the first of many and they have set a great example for our other junior players.
“As well as the players’ families, there were loads of Rockets in the stands today to cheer them on and to have over 1,200 people for a pre-season game is phenomenal.”
The players were equally pleased to pull on the Newcastle shirt for the first time.
“It was great to make my first team debut in front of a big crowd of passionate fans,” said Weetman.
“The result was not the one we wanted but it was a great experience and it is onwards and upwards from here for Thunder.”
Cramlington Rockets are starting pre-season in the coming weeks and are recruiting for new players at all ages.
For more information visit cramlingtonrockets.co.uk