Fighting back from semi-pro setback

Luke Waters bursts through the Telford defence - Pic by: Richard Parkes
Luke Waters bursts through the Telford defence - Pic by: Richard Parkes

Sherwood Wolf Hunt’s under-19 international hooker, Luke Walters, is determined to bounce back from the disappointment of seeing his first taste of semi-professional rugby league cut short.

Walters was the Mansfield Woodhouse-based club’s first player to turn professional when he signed semi-professional papers for Featherstone Rovers earlier this year — a place where he played as a junior with the amateur Featherstone Lions side.

Unfortunately after impressing and playing in a couple of matches for the reserve side, his adventure ended when Featherstone disbanded their Reserve Grade set-up in April.

Like several clubs they were concerned about a lack of fixtures for their players.

However, there may be a chance for Walters to continue his semi-professional career next season as Rovers said it would monitor players from the reserve squad and was keen to enter a team into the 2017 competition.

“I was very disappointed with what happened at Featherstone as it is a place I have a bond with,” said Walters.

“I enjoyed my time playing at a higher level. However, I do not blame Featherstone for what has happened and would happily go back there if the opportunity ever arose again as I was learning a lot about rugby and was really starting to develop as a player. 

“The coaches and the lads at Featherstone were great and I felt like I belonged to the club and the town.”

Walters, who has just represented Scotland at the Student Four Nations and is playing for Scotland under-19s again in July, has now returned to Wolf Hunt, where he helped the club to win promotion last season.

He is also part of the coaching team as the club develops plans to attract young players.

He will be coaching Wolf Hunt under-13s and at the club’s RFL Midlands RL Development days as it works with the Rugby Football League and the Embed The Pathway programme throughout the region to give seven to 14-year-olds a taste of the sport.

Walters, studying for a sports coaching degree at Leeds Becket University, based at Leeds Rhino’s Carnegie Stadium, is keen to progress.

“I feel that for a young player I have achieved a lot and I am very proud of what I have done, but I am still only a young man and there is plenty more to be done,” he said..

“As much as I have achieved so far, there is much more I am capable of and I am going to do my best to get as far as I can.

“It would not be possible without all the support I get from friends and family. I thank them all, especially my mum and dad for getting me to where I need to be and funding everything I do.”

Wolf Hunt chairman Richard Tempest-Mitchell said: “We were very happy for Luke to take the opportunity with both hands and he did very well while at Featherstone.

‘The Reserve Grade professional game will open up again soon I believe and I feel that Luke will return to the professional ranks at some point.”