U16's Catch Up - Ryan O'Brien

U16's Catch Up - Ryan O'Brien widnesvikings.co.uk
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20th June 2017

It takes years of hard work and dedication to make it in professional rugby league. Therefore, in a previous programme, One Club caught up with someone who has an important hand in putting our future stars on the road to Vikings greatness - Ryan O'Brien, Under 16's Head Coach.

In a season defined by the contribution of our young talent on our first team, it's fitting that there's real excitement in our scholarship ranks too.

O'Brien says, "The season has been pretty good. We only have six games in our season but it's not about winning at this level though - it's about having the opportunity to play and progress. The lads have been putting in what they've been shown in training, and there's been some stand-out individual performances as well."

It takes a rare set of qualities to make it in the Super League and only the best young talent completes the journey to elite rugby league. This can be seen in a training schedule for our scholars that requires a level of commitment and dedication that sets our young players apart from most teenagers.

Ryan explains, "The lads are still in school. They train hard with us and they also have community rugby league commitments too."

He continues, "In a typical week they're with us on a Monday, for a mix of rugby training, wrestling, gym sessions and rugby education. On a Wednesday and Friday, the local lads will come in before school and do another athletic development session. The whole squad is then together on a Saturday for the big field session. They'll likely play on a Sunday for their community team and do a few sessions with them too."

The intensity of the scholarship programme helps prepare the young players for the rigours of the Super League.

"The under 15's and 16's always train together. It's a big test for the first year boys going up against bigger and more experienced players. We need to prepare them for to go up to the Academy environment and the first team, so this is all part of their development."

Ryan adds, "We've had a good chunk of our under 15's play with the under 16's, which is great preparation."

The scholars don't need to look too far to find the inspiration to know that their hard work, sacrifice and commitment is all worth it. With established stars like Alex Gerrard and Tom Gilmore, and 2017's Academy graduates all starting in our scholarship programme, the Under 16's have real role models to follow.  

Ryan says, "Owen Farnworth, Danny Walker and Liam Walsh were all Under 16's players just a couple of years ago. For our current players to see that is really exciting. If that doesn't motivate them, I don't know what will!"

Every Vikings Member and Supporter wants to see local talent represent the Club. With a strong contingent of skilled Halton players in the U16 squad, O'Brien is confident that others will follow in Tom Gilmore's footsteps.

He says, "Being a Widnes lad, all I wanted to do was represent my hometown club - I know that feeling runs right through the Under 16's squad. I can't wait to see more lads from this local area make the step up into the first team." 

U16's Catch Up - Ryan O'Brien widnesvikings.co.uk