Rising star Joe Sanderson has confirmed he will be staying at Hunslet RFC for the 2018 season, having signed a one year contract extension.
The goal kicking half back arrived at the club to some fanfare last year from Leeds Rhinos, having impressed in their academy as a teenager.
Sanderson will be looking to build on a solid year, in which he has made 16 appearances so far, scoring 16 tries and kicking 63 goals.
Will he move on?
At only 20 years old, Sanderson already has an impressive CV, and many of the best betting sites predict that he is destined to be a genuine star. As such, there were question marks as to whether a Championship or even Super League team would come knocking. It seems almost inevitable that he will be snapped up sooner or later, but for now, the big boys seem content to monitor his continued development in League One.
A product of Drighlington ARLFC, Sanderson signed for Rhinos back in 2013 at the age of 16. He immediately made an impression, and soon established himself as the top half back in an Academy that has never been short on talent.
It was in the U19s that he really made a name for himself, helping them reach the Academy semi final in 2016, where their run came to an end with a narrow loss to Wigan Warriors.
At this point, he had proved himself to be one to watch, however, with 19 appearances throughout the 2016 season, scoring 13 tries and 102 goals with an impressive 88 percent successful conversion rate.
It was little wonder that Hunslet were so pleased to sign him in October 2016. Director of Rugby Darren Williams spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post at the time and described the signing as “a real coup” for the club.
Separating the men from the boys
Hunslet might be a comparatively lowly club compared with the mighty Rhinos, but it is still a significant step up to go from playing in the youth academy to the men’s team, whatever the league.
Coach Gary Thornton said, “It’s a tough transition from Academy and under-19s football into League One, and it can take players time to adapt to the differences. But Joe has made it a seamless transition, and shown real promise in his first season.”
There is no sense in hurrying his development, and another season at Hunslet will be exactly what he needs. It is also great news for the club, and the sport more broadly.
Sanderson himself told reporters that he is delighted to be at Hunslet for 2018, saying “Hopefully we can finish this season strong and win the League One Shield, then after a short break we can get stuck into a tough pre-season and have a successful 2018.”
With a talent like his, there is little doubt that he will be playing for a Championship League club sooner rather than later, but who knows – perhaps Hunslet will be that team and is also destined for great things.