North east pair gain England Academy recognition

James Gordon

Two of Cramlington Rockets’ former juniors, Alex Donaghy and Isaac Nokes, are set to play for England Academy against Wales.

The Northumberland-based former RFL Club of the Year has made a habit in recent years of seeing its players make the national age group squads, a theme that will continue later this month.

Having been a part of the successful Newcastle Thunder academy set up for two years, stand off Alex Donaghy and centre, Isaac Nokes will head to Llanelli on 19th October.

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Dave Elliott, the RFL’s National Programmes Manager, told “Like the Academy Origin series in mid-season, internationals are a key part of our preparation for touring Australia next year and we’re very grateful to Wales for hosting this fixture.

“Many of the players already have international experience, while others are new to the performance squad environment. The pre-match preparation and the game itself will be a good experience for all of them.”

In a squad full of U18s players from Super League teams, Cramlington Rockets chairman, Jeff Ball was excited to see North East representation.

“The game up here is going from strength to strength and this is another big endorsement. Alex and Isaac have worked tremendously hard in the last few years and their selection is well deserved. They, and their families, should rightly feel very proud.”

Selection marks further progress for Donaghy who played for England Youth in 2017:

“Its a great opportunity to play for England again. A lot of hard work has gone into this year and its a great feeling being rewarded like this. I’m looking forward to getting out there and enjoying the experience and showing everyone what I can do.”

Meanwhile, debutant Nokes was pleasantly surprised to get the call:

“It’s a massive honour to have got the opportunity to be picked. I wasn’t expecting it at all, it was more of a goal for next year. A massive thanks to Alan Stevenson, Jordan Robinson and Michael Heap and all the other coaches that have helped me get to this point in my career, which hopefully is just the beginning.”

The full squad is as follows:

Danny Attley (Castleford Tigers), Lewis Baxter (St Helens), Joe Burton (Leeds Rhinos), Lewis Dodd  (St Helens), Alex Donaghy (Newcastle Thunder), Jacob Dugdale (Widnes Vikings), Jacob Gannon (Warrington Wolves), Corey Hall (Leeds Rhinos), Umyla Hanley (Wigan Warriors), Ellis Longstaff (Warrinton Wolves), Aidan McGowan (Huddersfield Giants), Isaac Nokes (Newcastle Thunder), Jamie Pye (St Helens), George Roby (Warrington Wolves), Rian Rowley (Leeds Rhinos), Harry Rushton (Wigan Warriors), Harry Shackleton (Bradford Bulls), Iwan Stephens (Leeds Rhinos), Robson Stevens (Huddersfield Giants), Josh Thewlis (Warrington Wolves), Liam Tindall (Leeds Rhinos), Connor Wrench (Warrington Wolves).

Prior to the game at West Wales Raiders’ Stebonheath Park, the squad will train with their England Knights colleagues at Weetwood Hall in Leeds.

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