Hull FC confirm plans for U-23 reserve grade squad

Hull FC have revealed that they intend to field an Under-23 reserve grade side next season, the first Super League club to officially confirm that they are doing so.

Aother eight clubs, believed to feature St Helens, Wigan Warriors and Leigh Centurions amongst their number, have also expressed interest in the concept.

There has been no formal agreement with the RFL about what structure the reserve grade competition should take, nor about which players would qualify.

But the idea centres on playes under the age of 23 making up the bulk of squads, with open-age players who need game time also being involved.

If no official format can be agreed, then FC will look to play ‘friendly’ fixtures against other interested clubs.

“We have struggled to get the right playing foundations in place for our up and coming young professional players,” said FC owner Adam Pearson.

“A Hull FC Under-23s reserve team in a competitive league would offer that platform for our academy players to play at a more senior level and gives the likes of Jansin Turgut, Brad Fash, Callum Lancaster and Jack Downs the chance to play regularly, at a good standard, with existing team mates and structures, which will develop their talents.

“Our ring-fenced players in the City of Hull Academy from next season will be available to play for the Hull FC Under 23s with a clear allegiance to the club, ensuring they don’t lose their identity as Hull FC players as they progress through the ranks.

“We anticipate that fixtures will be played at venues within the city boundaries.

“We believe that our new-look elite academy breeding ring-fenced players into a specific Hull FC Under-23s squad gives us the perfect stepping stones to deliver Super League players of the future, of the highest calibre.”

The idea is to increase the amount of competitive, quality rugby matches, in which younger and fringe players can develop.

Hull coach Lee Radford feels it is a positive step forward for the club.

“We are currently failing these young players by raising their expectations and aspirations before giving them anywhere near enough of a shot at the game to develop at first-grade.

“Our full back Jamie Shaul is a great example of a player who came into our system late, found opportunities limited and just a couple of seasons ago couldn’t even get a game at lower championship level.

“We can’t make calls on players like that at such an early stage, particularly in other positions like the front row.

“It’s a rare commodity to see a 19-year-old step up and be ready for Super League without a few extra years to grow physically and show their worth, as we have seen in players like Chris Green and Josh Bowden who given time have shown their worthy of a first-grade contract.

“It is a significant step forward in terms of player development and gives the young players coming through the new-look academy something to aspire to.

“Dual registration has been challenging for both clubs this season in terms of selection and makes it difficult for the players and coaches.

“This time of the year is also hard with players not able to be registered at both clubs, which only leads to a situation where a player could find themselves sidelined for the rest of the year which is crazy.

“We need to give these players time and a platform to perform. You can look at Jamie Peacock, James Graham, Sam Tomkins, Ryan Hall – to name just a few – who are all players who came through that bit later and earned their spurs in an Under-23’s reserve grade style competition.”

In a further development, FC also hope to bring into being a ‘mini Origin’ series for the city of Hull’s Under-23 young professional players.

A series of three games against Hull KR youngsters is envisaged, with both clubs either fielding an Under-23s squad against each other, or alternatively a game between the players in the new City of Hull academy, according to their club allegiance.

FC hope that the new-look series for fans to support can be arranged in the near future between both clubs.

 The three games could taje place in East Hull andWest Hull, with a final match occuring on ‘neutral’ territory.

The deciding game could even be used as a curtain-raiser to one of the Super Leaue derby matches.


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