From zero-hour contracts to full-time rugby league player: The sensational rise of Matty Ashton

Drew Darbyshire

New Warrington recruit Matty Ashton was playing amateur rugby and working on a zero-hours contract less than 12 months ago.

The 21-year-old joined Swinton on trial before the start of the 2019 Championship campaign after starting pre-season with community club Rochdale Mayfield.

Ashton went on to become a standout player for the Lions last season, scoring 30 tries in 25 appearances.

He said: “This year has been a surprise to me.

“I came into the Swinton team not knowing what to expect at the start of the season and we got leathered in one game and I was thinking that I wasn’t ready at that stage.

“I then got dropped for the next three games and I thought that I wasn’t ready for this but as soon as I got into the team and scored two tries against Halifax, I was just buzzing and hoped for the best season possible.

“Swinton have got some quality lads, quality coaching staff and everything I need to progress so I’m happy for everything that they’ve done for me.”

Ashton is one of the hottest prospects in the British game at the moment – but his story is unlike that of most professional players of his age.

The full-back or winger didn’t graduate from a club’s academy system. He travelled around Australia last year while playing rugby purely out of love for the game.

At the time, Ashton never thought about trying to make it as a professional – but jumped at the opportunity to become a full-time athlete when Super League side Warrington came calling, signing a two-year deal with the Wolves.

Ashton added: “I don’t understand the attention and stuff, it is all a bit surreal. It is a dream come true so I just need to keep riding that dream, keep chasing it and see what can happen.

“I had signed a deal with Swinton so I was just expecting to play with Swinton next year but Warrington got in talks with Swinton and it is an opportunity that I can’t turn down at my age.

“I have been working in a gym at the Village Hotel as a lifeguard in Manchester. It was a zero-hour contract and I was just doing a couple of shifts a week.

“It’s all a been a bit mad so the move to Warrington is going to sort my lifestyle out as well as my rugby game so I can’t wait for it. My aim is just to train as hard as I can and hopefully get into the first-team and give it my best shot.”

More on site

Batley lure back-rower from Dewsbury

From Featherstone’s glass ceiling to Toronto’s Canadian dream

Kriss Brining commits future to York

Mailbox: On report calls should be a sin bin offence

Castleford receive undisclosed fee for Luke Gale