Taylor Pemberton, Matty Foster, and Jumah Sambou have all extended their deals to remain at Saints whilst McKenzie Buckley and Ben Lane have signed full-time contracts for the first time.
Pemberton joined the club from Leigh East and last season made 10 appearances for the under-19s, scoring one try. He was drafted into the squad for the first time in 2021 when we played Salford in the final regular season game of the year, but didn’t feature in the matchday 17.
2022 saw the return of reserves grade Rugby League, which allowed Taylor to continue to develop, with his debut coming against the Castleford Tigers away from home. A further appearance followed later in the year against Wakefield Trinity, where he again impressed. He has signed a one-year deal which will keep him at the Club until at least the end of the 2023 season.
Matty Foster, a second-row forward signed from Blackbrook, has progressed through the scholarship programme and has represented England at U16s level alongside Jack Welsby, as well as the Lancashire Academy. Foster, who made his Saints debut in 2020 against Salford, has had a difficult time with injury having broken his jaw on week one of Super League in 2021 whilst playing on dual-registration with Leigh Leopards, he then tore his ACL at the Magic Weekend while playing for Leigh. After battling back from injury, while playing for the reserves this season, he again suffered a serious knee injury. Matty has shown tremendous courage and attitude to overcome such bad luck and will be looking to battle back again in 2023 year and kick on. He has also signed a one-year contract.
Jumah Sambou, signed from Woolston Golds, is an outside back who has starred in the centre for the Academy. He scored five times in as many appearances in 2021 after scoring seven times in 18 games in 2019. He also played twice for the Reserves in 2020. Jumah progressed into a reserve-grade player for the 2022 season and followed up his fine form with another eye-catching season scoring seven tries in seven appearances. His fine form across the Academy was rewarded with a debut in 2022 against the Castleford Tigers, where he picked up his first senior try. He joins Pemberton and Foster in signing a one-year deal.
Head Coach Paul Wellens said: “Jumah and Taylor both played vital roles for us last season and, having developed through our Academy, they know what’s expected of them as Saints players and that is to display a consistent work ethic and commitment. Having both made their first team debuts last season, we expect them to work hard for further opportunities”
“Matty has been really unfortunate in the past few seasons. He’s picked up a fair few injuries that have really limited his playing time, but we have some of the best people here to get him through this. He hasn’t folded once, he has come in every day with a smile on his face and worked really hard to get himself back on the field. The resilience he’s shown during these tough times has strengthened his character and this will serve him well in the future.
Fellow Academy graduates, McKenzie Buckley and Ben Lane have signed professional deals with the club that will see them be promoted to the first-team squad. Buckley has signed a one-year deal with the option of a further year whilst Lane has signed a two-year deal.
Buckley made his debut for the first team in 2022 against the Castleford Tigers having progressed through the Saints academy since 2019. A prop forward when he joined, McKenzie has since moved into the back row and some eye-catching performances for the reserves and academy sides in 2022 saw him rewarded with a debut. He played 12 times for the academy in 2022, scoring five tries with his hard running from the back row, as well as making four appearances for the reserves on top of debuting for the first team in 2022 under former Coach Kristian Woolf.
Lane joined the club from Halton Hornets and has progressed through the Academy system at the club playing in the halves, at full-back, and on the wing. Ben progressed through the system quickly, playing for the academy and scholarship sides in 2021, and then the Academy and Reserves in 2022. With a safe pair of hands at the back, skilful in the halves and with pace and finishing ability on the wings, Ben has the quality to play across the back line and made two appearances for the first team in 2022. He will now hope to get more playing opportunities in 2023.
Head Coach Paul Wellens added: “McKenzie and Ben were in and around the squad all year in 2022, helping us train and prepare for the season and they’ve been rewarded with contracts that they fully deserve. They’ve shown the attitude and commitment we expect, but also quality on the field. They now have a great opportunity and only need to look at someone like Jon Bennison as to what can be achieved through hard work and commitment”