SAINTS are delighted to announce contracts for seven Academy players who played a prominent part in the side’s superb unbeaten Championship season.
Aaron Smith, Liam Cooper, Jonah Cunningham, Ben Morris, Josh Eaves, Rob Fairclough and Matty Lees have all put pen to paper on deals that will see them promoted into the first team squad for the 2017 Betfred Super League campaign.
Aaron Smith, 20, has agreed a 12-month contract.
The hooker signed from Blackbrook and has been at the club since he was 11. He represented England at under 18s and has a good skillset for a hooker – being quick and able to think on his feet.
Academy Captain Liam Cooper, 20, has also agreed a 12-month contact.
He is a strong running back row forward who is tenacious in defence.
Liam has been with the club since he was 14 and, like Aaron, joined from Blackbrook.
18-year-old Jonah Cunningham has agreed a 12-month contract.
The hooker/back rower has been at the club since he was 14 and signed from Blackbrook.
He is a tough and aggressive competitor who isn’t afraid to utilise his speed.
Fresh from playing twice for Wales in the World Cup qualifiers, Ben Morris, 19, has also agreed a-12-month contract.
The former Blackbrooker has been with the Saints since he was 14, and scored two vital tries for Wales in their World Cup win over Italy.
Ben is a very skilful ball handler and line running forward as well as being a strong defender. He plays in the back row or at centre.
Josh Eaves, 19, has signed a two-year contract with a one year option.
He is a hooker who played his amateur rugby at Clock Face.
Josh has been with the club since he was 14 and was unlucky to miss the England under 18s tour of Australia this year after being selected, due to a shoulder injury.
He is a great leader, very clever around the ruck and is eligible to play for the Academy next season.
Rob Fairclough, 19, has agreed a two-year deal with a one year option.
He is a scrum half from Blackbrook who went on the England under 18s tour of Australia this year.
Rob is a very brave defender who likes to take the line on in attack and is also a very good support player. He is eligible for the 19s next season.
Finally, Prop Matty Lees, 18, has signed a long term deal.
He played his amateur rugby at Rochdale Mayfield and been with the club since 16 years of age.
Matty was also selected to tour Australia with England but had to miss out due to injury.
He is a very strong running powerful forward, who always leads from the front, and can play for the Academy 19s next year.
Saints Head Coach Keiron Cunningham said: “All these players played very big roles in the successful Academy Championship winning side last season and we are looking forward to seeing them develop further in the first team system at the club.
“Each are valuable additions to the squad and as with our younger players historically we will have no hesitation in handing them their debuts when they are ready for action.
“Congratulations to each of them and praise is also due to the Academy coaching staff and volunteers, as well as the players’ families for playing a big part in their development.”
Saints will announce their squad numbers for the 2017 season shortly.