The Academy class of 2017 will be flying out on their Tour of Australia next Monday.
As part of the build up to the trip, we look at the inaugural tour back in 2004 with Neil Kilshaw and Head Coach Derek Traynor.
“2004 provided us with a blueprint of what to do and what not to do on tours,” Neil said. “For example, entrusting Eric Frodsham with passports and boarding passes is not a good idea…
“In all seriousness, we thought that we’d made a comprehensive plan for training, team activities and time off but its only when you get there you realise you have to be flexible. In the first few days we probably trained a little too intensely as we were all so eager to get the trip off to a great start.
“Hindsight is a great thing and the reality was all the hard intense work is needed before you go (which we had in abundance) and whilst there it’s more about team cohesion and keeping players fresh and skills crisp.
“The 2004 tour helped to develop four players that went on to play Super League for St Helens in Paul Clough, Scott Moore, Ste Bannister and Dean McGilvray, but importantly gave everyone a fantastic life experience and character building opportunity.
“In the hours after the final game most of the staff where saying ‘never again’ because of the sheer work involved. However, it didn’t take long before those brain cells started churning round again! It was probably on the plane (in that brief hour that Mike was awake) that we started asking what if, what about, we could just… and before you know it the 2006 plans had started!”
Derek Traynor added: “When it came round to the first game I was a nervous wreck but tried my best not to let the lads know. We were playing Wests at the famous Campbelltown Oval and after about ten minutes the nerves calmed down as we took an early lead.
“I can still see Nick Reddyoff using his fantastic speed to skip around the outside of the defence and score by the posts. We were causing Wests a lot of problems on the edges with Reddyoff, Sean Weed and both wingers Dean McGilvray and James Walker making good yards. At half time we led 28-0 and despite a mini comeback, Scott Moore at scrum half and Paul Clough in the pack saw us home 42-12.
“The middle game of three was against a team called Chifley College. It was a tough physical encounter with Ste Bannister and Liam Bland performing very well. At 20-0 up and never really in doubt of losing a huge brawl erupted, with some crowd involvement which saw the game abandoned.
“This was the only bit of trouble we’ve had on a trip and the sight of Scott Moore trying to fight off two Tongans with Gordon Pennington having a piggy-back ride was just a bizarre memory that’ll last forever!
“In the final game we took on the might of Penrith Panthers and we had a very focused dressing room which were determined to end the tour unbeaten. The game was a very close affair with Reddyoff opening the scoring again. Scott Moore was outstanding and his performance that day was the best individual performance we’ve seen on a tour.
“We pushed out into a 10 point lead through a lovely delayed pass from Scott to put Chris Frodsham in before Scott was sin binned… and that ten minute spell seemed to take forever. When he returned to the field our lead had been wiped out. The Penrith team that day had Michael Jennings in the centre and it was obvious what a talent he was as he ghosted in for a try as if our defence wasn’t there!
“With Scott returning our leadership also returned and we managed to get back in front with five minutes to go, Andy Stott converting a Ste Bannister try by the side of the posts.
“A few errors then put our defence under pressure and Penrith went in by the corner flag on the final play of the game. The joy (and relief) on everyone’s faces as the kick sailed wide of the posts! And in true fashion the touring party sang loud and proud in the dressing room!”
1. Steven Bannister
2. Liam Bland
3. Martyn Bradshaw
4. Paul Clough
5. Chris Donnelly
6. Ashley Elsley
7. Chris Frodsham
8. Scott Holland
9. Dave Lowe
10. Nick Manchester
11. Louis Menguy
12. Dean McGilvray
13. Scott Moore
14. Tony Owen
15. Andrew Parnell
16. Jonathan Platt
17. Nick Reddyoff
18. Dave Roughley
19. Andrew Stott
20. James Walker
21. Sean Weed
- St Helens 42 v 12 West Tigers
- St Helens 20 v 0 Chifley
- St Helens 22 v 20 Penrith Panthers