Young home-grown Gateshead forward Rhys Clarke has committed to the club for next season on a full time deal.
Clarke, who was signed to play for the Under 18s at the start of the season, has been in impressive form and this saw him play in 13 of Thunder’s first 14 matches.
He will train full time next season but both the player and club have agreed that his education at Gateshead College is important. Rhys will therefore continue to study at Gateshead College and will also carry out community sports coaching for Thunder’s Community Department.
Celebrating his signing, Rhys said: “Gateshead Thunder is my local team and I’m proud to have played for them so much this season, particularly as it was unexpected. I’m really pleased to know that the coaches have faith in me and want me as part of the squad for 2010 and hopefully beyond.
“I’d like to give credit to everyone involved in Gateshead Thunder Under 18s as the team has helped me massively develop as a player. I sometimes think the coaches and players involved in the Under 18s don’t get the credit they deserve. Hopefully more and more players will move from the Under 18s to the 1st Team.”
Thunder Chief Executive, Rod Findlay, commented: “We’re really pleased that Rhys agreed to sign for 2010 and that Castleford have taken him for a month as part of our overall partnership with them. Obviously we want players to commit to us before we let other clubs see the talent that the North East is producing!
“The Under 18s is a real success story and deserved this recognition. Hopefully young players will see that there is genuine opportunity to build a career with Thunder. Our Club Captain, Neil Thorman, was a ballboy and in the academy when Thunder were formed in Super League and about a third to half the squad are locally trained”
Thunder are already planning for 2010 and Rhys joins a number of players who are already committed to Thunder in 2010. Andrew Henderson, Dylan Nash, Nick Youngquest, Kris Kahler, Paul Franze, Jamie Russo and Russ Aitken each signed for 2009 and 2010 when joining the club.