Continuing the countdown to our Academy Tour of Australia, today Player Performance Manager Neil Kilshaw takes a look at the 2006 Tour.
The first thing to say about 2006 is we were ambitious; 30 players and an increase from three games to five!
First up was a trip to Newcastle to play a Knights side in a curtainraiser to Great Britain’s warm up game and what an introduction that was. We played against a very physical and well organised side who had obviously known about our exploits on the previous trip. To say they were lying in wait would be an understatement.
Needless to say we were better prepared for the previous experience and trained that squad in preparation harder than any other Academy side we’d had.
We started fast and opened the scoring when Jamie Ellis sliced through from close range, then capitalised to go ahead 22-4 at the break.
In the second half the charge came at us and we defended for our lives. In attack we had little energy and struggled to get any real field position. Despite the comeback we held on for a 22-16 victory.
The following game against Wests was the most comprehensive victory – by 14-0 – and that followed a tense draw against a physical Balmain side… although we had a winning Andrew Dixon try ruled out for a debatable forward pass!
After these first three victories we then had Cronulla cancel on us, and we’d like to think it was through fear!
In the final encounter we came up against a Penrith side eager for revenge and yet again we contested a thriller that went right to the death.
Willie Isa opened the scoring for Penrith early in the first half, and after that the game went end to end, but both defences held firm.
With minutes to go Karl Ashall jumped out of dummy half, pierced the Panthers defence and found the supporting Warren Thompson to go in under the posts to steal victory.
The 2006 Tour really was a bruising affair and we were very proud to maintain our unbeaten record as an Academy touring club. With the increased numbers we also had an increased level of staff and Matt Daniels (now Head Strength and Conditioner) and Nathan Mill (now Head Physio) were staff members on that trip too.
“My memories of the tour began with a member of staff wearing the stomach contents of a drunken passenger half an hour into a 24 hour plane journey – it must have been a lonely journey for Glynn with everyone keeping their distance from him for obvious reasons!” Matt said. “The trip itself started in earnest with an endurance test on day one. With a deliberate attempt to readjust body clocks and avoid jet lag we marched around Sydney with the lads power napping at any given opportunity.
“The bus trips in and out of Sydney became a great opportunity for the lyrically blessed amongst us to start a good old sing song-much to the dismay of some of the staff. One particular favourite amongst the lads, ‘a cow kicked nelly in the belly in barn’ earned rave reviews from Eric Chisnall!
“Sleeping arrangements are quite cosy and we had six members of staff in bunk beds in our room. One particular staff member insisted on getting dressed for bed and then turning the light on when he left the room for a toilet run in the middle of the night. This same staff member also had subway Penrith on his friends and family call list.
“Other highlights of the trip for me were watching Great Britain beat Australia closely followed by Derek Traynor leaping out of a raft mid-way down the rapids with cramp.
“An obvious high of the tour were the performances of the players themselves – not only in returning undefeated, but the high standards of performance and professionalism displayed throughout.
“I have too many fond memories to put into words but the players and staff on the tour all contribute to making it a true trip of a lifetime.
“Through the fundraising and training pre tour to the matches, activities and visits it is rewarding to see the group bonding and strong relationships formed, as well as young players develop and establish a level of responsibility and independence.
“It will always be something I look back on with great pride and the players and staff involved will be lifelong friends.”
1. Tom Armstrong
2. Karl Ashall
3. Matty Ashurst
4. Philip Baines
5. Jack Bradbury
6. Matthew Clarke
7. Scott Clarke
8. Tom Colborn
9. Tom Connick
10. Jamie Dickinson
11. Andrew Dixon
12. Jamie Ellis
13. Jamie Foster
14. Gareth Frodsham
15. Lee Gaskell
16. Daniel Leach
17. Owen Livesey
18. Jonny Lomax
19. Steven Lucas
20. Shaun Magennis
21. Joseph Molyneux
22. Robert Murphy
23. Steven Nield
24. Dave Sutton
25. Warren Thompson
26. Barry Walsh
27. Martin Waring
28. Mike Welsby
29. Gary Wheeler
30. Andy Yates
- St Helens 22 v 16 Newcastle Knights
- St Helens 14 v 0 West Magpies
- St Helens 16 v 16 Balmain Tigers
- St Helens 6 v 4 Penrith Panthers