Tag Archives: Batley Bulldogs

Youngster Cooper continues pre-season progress against hometown club

As the start of the 2015 rugby league season approaches, players are looking to impress their coaches and stake a claim for a place in the first team.

This applies to Luke Cooper, 20, of Featherstone Rovers, who was recently awarded a place in the first team squad for the warm up games against Castleford Tigers and Batley Bulldogs.

Unfortunately for Cooper, he was on the losing side in both games, as Rovers lost 18-0 to the Tigers, and 26-6 against the Bulldogs.

Luke Cooper in action against Batley Bulldogs last Sunday.

Featherstone’s Luke Cooper in action against Batley Bulldogs last Sunday.

Despite the result, The Bulldogs game was a major highlight in his career, as Batley are his hometown club.

He said: “It was probably the greatest moment of my life to date, to run out on the field in front of over 1000 spectators was such an electrifying experience.

“It was different to anything I’d played in before, I felt like I had to play well in front of all my family and friends, and make them proud.

“If I’m honest I never thought I would be playing because Featherstone are a great team with so many good forwards, so to get my name on the team sheet was a fantastic feeling and it was made that extra bit sweeter that it was against a team that I had watched and supported as a child.”

The young forward looked back at his performance at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium, and added: “I’m super critical of my performance so personally I didn’t think I played the best I could have, and I know I have a lot to learn so hopefully I can do as much training as possible, work hard, and get to that required consistent level of performance.”

In 2014, Rovers sent Cooper and another teammate over to Australia in an exciting six-month trip, with the aim for them to gain valuable experience playing at a higher level in the Sydney Group 6 Country League.

This life-changing opportunity provided Cooper with the chance to develop his skills on the pitch, and experience a different culture and lifestyle.

“We received plenty of game time in Australia and have learnt a lot, the whole experience was unforgettable and I am thankful to the club that I was offered this unbelievable opportunity.”

He is now looking to establish himself as first team player for Featherstone Rovers, and play a part in helping the club challenge for a place in the Super League.

Walmsley goes from amateur rugby to Grand Final winner in less than three years

Walking out in front of a sold out Old Trafford for the biggest game in the rugby league season is what every amateur player dreams of.

That dream became reality for Dewsbury’s Alex Walmsley, after he helped St Helens win the Super League Grand Final, by beating rivals Wigan Warriors 14-6 back in October.

Alex Walmsley celebrating with the Grand Final Trophy

Alex Walmsley celebrating with the Grand Final Trophy

This is a remarkable achievement when you consider less than three years ago, the 24-year-old was playing with local amateurs Dewsbury Celtic.

“It’s been a turbulent three years, it’s been unbelievable and I’ve loved every minute of it,” said Walmsley.

“I’ve been to numerous Grand Finals watching as a kid, and to walk out in front of 70,000 fans on the biggest stage of all was a surreal experience, and is the pinnacle point in my career so far.”

Just two and a half years ago Walmsley was playing for Dewsbury Celtic in the local cup against Birstall Victoria.

“Back then if anybody would have said to me that in less than three years time I would be lifting the biggest trophy in club rugby league I would have said they were mad,” he said.

“It’s what you dream of doing as a kid and it’s what I dreamed of doing when I was 20-years-old playing for Dewsbury Celtic.

“With a bit of luck, some great coaching, and the support of my family and friends, I was lucky enough to go on and achieve this.

“I have had to make sacrifices, but that comes with it, and when you lift up that trophy it makes it all seem so easy and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.”

The young prop was handed a trial at Batley Bulldogs by coach John Kear after seeing Walmsley impress during games for his University side in Leeds.

“I played my first league game against Leigh Centurions after I was lucky enough to get a spot on the bench, I came on and played well and from then on I played every single week, it was brilliant.”

He was then offered a two-year deal by the Bulldogs, and after a successful first season was selected in the Championship team of the year, received Batley’s player of the year, and the Championship’s young player of the year award.

“For me, at the time, playing for Batley was the pinnacle in my career, it’s a great club, is very family orientated and is full of great people.”

After proving to be a revelation at Batley, St Helens were interested in signing the young star, and he signed a three-year deal with the Super League side.

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Images courtesy of Alex Walmsley.

He said: “As soon as I came to St Helens and looked at the place, with all the history behind the club, I thought this is where I want to be, and when I signed it was a massive honour.

“I remember sitting in the changing rooms with all the St Helens stars, and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to play with them.

“To be able to go on a pitch and call these players my teammates, it’s what dreams are made of and it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Due to numerous injuries in the St Helens side, Walmsley got his chance, and he certainly took his opportunity by making a serious impression throughout the Super League in his first few games.

He admitted that playing as many games as he did took him by surprise, and that playing in a Grand Final surpassed any expectations, but the humble 24-year-old is now an established squad member at the Saints, and is determined to keep working hard in what for him, will hopefully be another successful season.

Walmsley gave a lot of credit to his former coach at Dewsbury Celtic, Paul Heaton, and acknowledged how hard he worked with him during his time at Celtic.

“He definitely had a big influence on the player I am today and he really stuck at me in those early days and got me back loving the game.

“I will always go back and watch the boys play at Celtic, you can never forget your roots and I’m proud of where I’ve come from.”