Wakefield Trinity Wildcats academy graduate Ben Shulver has completed a memorable few days by signing a full-time contract at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
The 19-year-old second-rower made his first-team debut in Wakefield’s 66-6 Challenge Cup fourth round victory over Hemel Stags on Saturday and topped off his day with a try.
And Wildcats fans can expect to see more of the youngster after he today penned a deal to remain in the red, white and blue until the end of 2014.
“I’m very, very proud. From when you are small it’s all you think about doing and when you’re 12 and going to all the cold away games on a Sunday to doing this in the first team it really is unreal,” he said.
“I’m very pleased, coming through the ranks here and I owe a lot to the club. I had nowhere to go when I was 16 and this club took me in and I will try and do my best for the club.
“Anybody can make the push to the first team, you have to do the job to the best of your ability and make sure you’re doing the best you can all the time and wait for your opportunity. Rich (Agar) asked me to come down and train for a few weeks when Kirmo (Danny Kirmond) was injured and I took that opportunity and went on from then.
“I wanted to train all the time and I didn’t want a job, I just wanted to concentrate on my rugby so I put everything into this and it’s a gamble that’s paid off.”
Wildcats head coach Richard Agar was full of praise of Shulver’s performance against Hemel on Saturday and says the progress he has made warrants a full-time deal.
“He has made a lot of progress over the last 12-18 months,” Agar commented.
“He’s been training alongside the first team now for a good five or six weeks. He’s a raw talent but the kid has a terrific attitude and works really hard. He’ll give himself a good of a shot as he possibly can.
“He has some filling out to do. He’s at a point where he needs to develop a physical aspect and get a bit more size on him but he’s got the frame to do it and he’s made significant progress in that area over the last six months so we’ll keep working at that and he’ll give himself a super chance because of his terrific work ethic.”
Shulver is the first academy product to sign a full-time deal with Wakefield thanks to the help of Club 1873.
Supporters pay £2 a week to help support the youth set-up and Wildcats chief executive James Elston is delighted to see the scheme bearing fruit.
“It’s fantastic news that thanks to members of Club 1873 we’ve been able to give a local youngster the opportunity to become a full-time professional with the club and take the next step towards becoming a Super League player,” he said.
“When we launched the Club 1873 lottery scheme it was always the aim that we would get to the day where it allowed us to sign one of our bright young talents.
“Today is the first of what we hope is many more to come and with more people signing up then we can continue to provide our brightest local talents with the chance to live their dreams of becoming professional players.”