Trio make the grade at Devils

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - RUGBY LEAGUE By TOM BRAMWELL

SAL­FORD have signed up a trio of ex­cit­ing young­sters to be part of the club’s re­turn­ing re­serve-grade setup in 2020.

Con­nor Aspey, Luis Roberts and Jamie Abram have all agreed deals to fea­ture in the Red Devils re­serve side that will be coached by Danny Bar­ton.

Aspey and Roberts have both been key mem­bers of the club’s Foun­da­tion De­vel­op­ment Academy side, also coached by Bar­ton, which is based at Ec­cles Sixth Form Col­lege.

Abram – the son of for­mer Leigh and Rochdale coach Dar­ren – emerged through the Sal­ford Schol­ar­ship scheme, be­fore join­ing the War­ring­ton Wolves Academy.

The re­turn of the re­serve team pro­vides a route to pro­fes­sional rugby league for the likes of Aspey, whose per­for­mances in the Academy side were re­warded with first­team ac­tion in pre-sea­son fix­tures against Wi­gan War­riors and Swinton Lions ahead of the 2019 Su­per League cam­paign.

And the ver­sa­tile 17-year-old has con­tin­ued to im­press through­out the year and is ex­pected to be a key player in the Red Devils re­serve side.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to play pro­fes­sion­ally and know­ing there was an op­por­tu­nity to reach a higher stan­dard through the re­serves has given me a lot of mo­ti­va­tion,” said Aspey, a Hind­ley ARLFC ju­nior.

“The sup­port I re­ceived in pre­sea­son this year was un­be­liev­able and hav­ing a taste of that pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment made me even more ea­ger to ex­pe­ri­ence it again.”

Abram is re­turn­ing to Sal­ford af­ter a spell in the War­ring­ton Wolves Academy.

The 19-year-old – who is com­fort­able at half-back, full-back or hooker – came through the ranks as a Schol­ar­ship player at the club and will now look to em­u­late his fa­ther, Dar­ren, by pro­gress­ing to the first team and tasting ac­tion at Su­per League level. “I’m very pleased to be back at

Sal­ford and have the op­por­tu­nity to work with Danny again,” said Abram.

“My dad is proud of me for mak­ing this step up. Hope­fully, I can met my fam­ily proud with my per­for­mances and even im­press Ian Wat­son.”

Mean­while, it has been con­firmed that Sal­ford will again host Swinton in a pre-sea­son friendly fix­ture at the AJ Bell Sta­dium.

The clash with the Bet­fred Cham­pi­onship side coached by ex-Red Devil Stu­art Lit­tler on Jan­uary 5 will be the club’s first taste of ac­tion since the Grand Fi­nal at Old Traf­ford.

Sal­ford ran in 11 tries in a 52-6 vic­tory over coach Ian Wat­son’s for­mer side in their first ac­tion of 2019, with the fi­nal score of the fix­ture – a try for now-de­parted Der­rell Olpherts – set up by an ex­cep­tional break from then-tri­al­ist Con­nor Aspey.

Swinton’s op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor Steve Wild said: “I’d like to place on record our thanks to Ian Blease, Ian Wat­son and the AJ Bell Sta­dium for mak­ing this ex­cit­ing pre-sea­son en­counter pos­si­ble.

“Sal­ford had a won­der­ful cam­paign last year and we couldn’t ask for a tougher open­ing test for our squad. It’s a tra­di­tional en­counter dat­ing back 140 years and evokes a lot of great memories.”

Sal­ford Red Devils’ re­serve team head coach Danny Bar­ton

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