STE Leonard continues our countdown to this year’s Academy Tour of Australia with reflections of 2009:
“The Tour saw the emergence of four of this year’s first team squad, Tommy Makinson, Josh Jones, Jordan Hand and Joe Greenwood. The story of the latter is one of real inspiration to all our young players.
“Joe, who hails from Saddleworth, was an unsigned player who came into the Australia squad late in the day. He was under no illusions that he was going to have to work tremendously hard when out in Australia but set out as soon as we set foot in Sydney to impress every coach on the tour with his attitude, hard work and performances in the games. Needless to say the club didn’t waste any time after touching down in Manchester in securing the services of Joe for the future years.
“The tour also saw Anthony Walker, now at Wakefield, Carl Forster now at Salford, Nathan Ashe and Scott Hale who now plays in the premiership. Sunday’s trophy winning Swinton side featured Aaron Lloyd with an array of players playing in Division 1 also making the 2009 tour.
“The tour was also to see the first defeat of a touring side when we lost to Cronulla Sharks by 34-20 in sweltering heat. In true Saints’ spirit the squad dusted itself down and went into the last game with the Penrith Panthers with nothing but a win in their minds.
“The outcome was one of the finest games of our trips to date with a hard earned win by 16-10.
“The tour always concludes with an awards ceremony back at base at the foot of the Blue Mountains – the winners were Carl Forster, Anthony Walker and Nathan Ashe who all went on make first team debuts for the club.
“One of the highlights of the tour has to be Mike Rush’s encounter with what can only be described as a whopper of a snake making its way out of the mid-day heat under the sleeping quarters of the said Mr Rush.
“The scream was blood curdling and just when we thought he had got over his encounter with a quiet afternoon nap, he was cruelly attacked with a hose pipe brushing his cheek while he rested… Again he matched the scream to the same decibel level and from that tour to this he has never slept in the same room.
“The comment of the tour was moments after the snake was seen and Mike had set off on his Forrest Gump run away from the scene… one of the players asked which way was is the snake going Mike?
“To which he replied “you don’t think I’m bloody chasing it do you!”
“All great memories.”
1. Nathan Ashe
2. Marcus Baines
3. Adam Barber
4. Joseph Bate
5. Jordan Case
6. Liam Fishwick
7. Carl Forster
8. Jack Francis
9. Thomas Fry
10. Joshua Greaves
11. Scott Hale
12. Jordan Hand
13. Daniel Hunter
14. Thomas Johnson
15. Daniel Jones
16. Joshua Jones
17. Ben Karalius
18. Aaron Lloyd
19. Thomas Makinson
20. Jordan O’Neill
21. David Pike
22. Adam Tatlock
23. Daniel Wakefield
24. Anthony Walker
25. Callum Welsby
26. Stephen Yates
27. Joseph Greenwood
- St Helens 18 v 6 West Tiger Cubs
- St Helens 36 v 6 Balmain Tigers
- St Helens 20 v 34 Cronulla Sharks
- St Helens 16 v 10 Penrith Panthers
The Tourist’s View:
Keiron Purtill, Coach: “The experience of a lifetime should be the title of the tour. What an absolutely fascinating insight into the world and lifestyle of a full time rugby player it gives to young players. The memories made on this trip could never be replicated by staying in the UK.
“As a coach it was intriguing watching young boys leave and come back young men. Having to adapt to new situations for some – the first time to cook, clean and wash for themselves was an eye opener.
“Then for them to deal with full time training playing in testing conditions against bigger and more physical players with intimidating crowds and overcome this. All this is a testimony to all the staff and players who have been involved from the first tour to present. A legacy has been left for others to follow.”
Ross Mitchell, Physio: “The 2009 tour was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I had no hesitation in agreeing to go as the travelling Physio. The whole trip was incredible, not just for the players but the staff too. A real team bonding experience for all, with loads of activities and experiences that I’ll never forget.
“The rugby was a tough challenge and the lads got a real taste of being a full time professional. It’s something I’ll never forget and I am very grateful that I got to go.”
The 2009 Tourists.
Keiron Purtill and Ian Talbot.