Ex-St Helens academy ace, Scotland youth international pens new League 1 deal: ‘I am ready for a big 2024’

Ben Olawumi
Stadiwm CSM, North Wales Crusaders

Stadiwm CSM, the home of North Wales Crusaders - Alamy

Scotland youth international Jake Bloxham has penned a contract extension to remain with League 1 outfit North Wales Crusaders for the upcoming 2024 campaign.

The 19-year-old linked up with Carl Forster’s side last April following a successful trial, and went on to feature twice before the end of the 2023 season with appearances off the bench as an interchange against both Keighley Cougars and Cornwall.

Also named as the unused 18th man on three occasions, Bloxham spent time on a scholarship with Super League outfit St Helens as well as appearing for community side Blackbrook before joining Crusaders.

The Welsh outfit finished 6th in League 1 last term to qualify for the play-offs. Winning seven of their 18 regular season games, they would go on to be beaten in the play-off final by Doncaster.

Ex-St Helens academy ace, Scotland youth international Jake Bloxham pens new League 1 deal: ‘I am ready for a big 2024’

Back-rower Bloxham – who has appeared at under-18 level on the international front for Scotland through his heritage – saw his new deal announced by the League 1 club earlier this week via their website.

The teenager said: “Last season was a massive learning curve for me.  I believe I am ready to show the fantastic fans and staff at the Crusaders that I am ready for a big 2024.”

Like the 19-year-old, Crusaders head coach Forster also came through the ranks at St Helens, going on to make five appearances at senior level for his hometown club before departing at the end of the 2014 campaign.

Forster added: “Jake’s a good young lad who’s come from a good system. He did well to feature last year, and is continuing to learn really well.

“Jake’s got a very good skill set, and with a full pre-season under his belt, he can challenge for more minutes this season.”

Two others added to 2024 squad by North Wales Crusaders

Elsewhere, the Colywn Bay natives have added two other names into their pack for 2024 in the shape of forwards Jono Smith & Adam Wilkes.

Smith re-signs for the upcoming campaign after a 2023 which saw him limited to just a single appearance against London Skolars in August.

The 35-year-old debuted for Crusaders back in 2012, and has featured 93 times overall so far in-between stints at Barrow Raiders & Rochdale Hornets.

He said: “I really enjoyed coming back to training at the back end of last year and being around lads again.

“I’ve not really had much luck with injuries and other things since I came back to the club.

“I’m hoping I can just play as much as I can this season and enjoy every minute of it, in what will more than likely be my last season.”

Wilkes meanwhile is a new addition, and the second player this off-season to link up with Forster’s side from community club Leigh East, following on from Louis Else.

The new recruit captained East as they reached the play-off final in Division Three of the National Conference League last term, and has also appeared for both Lancashire & England Lions.

Speaking to Crusaders’ club website, Wilkes said: “Carl approached me before pre-season started, and asked me to come on board.

“I was made up he got in touch and he’s give me this opportunity. I’ve trained all pre-season, and I’m really looking forward to getting on the field and seeing what this season brings.”

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