SIX St Helens youngsters have been put through their paces by Royal Marine troops during a four-day camp session with the England Youth side.
Held at Royal Marine headquarters at RAF Lympstone, Academy players Oliver Davies, Kane Ditchfield, Lewis Galbraith, Ben Parry, Greg Richards and Andre Savelio were given a series of physical and mental challenges designed to improve their leadership, communication and teamwork qualities… all under the watchful eye of England head coach Steve McNamara.
“Having the opportunity to train with the Royal Marines is fantastic for these young players,” said McNamara. “The Marines are the elite armed forces and some of the most disciplined, dedicated and physically fit soldiers in the world and it is great for our young players to be surrounded by that environment.
“The guys were training alongside actual Marine soldiers, so they were able to see what it takes both physically and mentally to become an elite soldier and these are traits which are transferable to sport and will help these young players become better and help them make the step up to the next level.
“The lads worked on a lot of leadership, communication and teamwork skills which will be of great benefit in their playing careers. They were also pushed physically and they we’re given the tools to work well under pressure and to work in fatigued conditions and these will make them stronger going forward.”
The players will all have an opportunity to test themselves on the international stage this Easter when they face neighbours France in a two test series. The Youth side is coached by Dave Elliott, the man who led the England Academy to a series victory over the Australian Schoolboys last season but McNamara was keen to attend the camp with the Youth side and cast his eye over England’s youngest group of stars.
“We want to create an identity for the players,” said McNamara. “It can be difficult for players to form a close bond when they play for different clubs with different cultures but this is a great way of overcoming that.
“They’ve had to work together in pressure situations during this camp and that takes them out of their comfort zone and brings them together and while these guys might be in the Youth system, they are still part of Team England just like the senior guys are and we want to ensure there is a cohesive bond between all the teams.”