Rugby league: Former Rochdale Mayfield players named in England Knights squad
Date published: 12 October 2021
Matty Ashton pictured in 2018 when he played for Rochdale Mayfield
Former Mayfield players Matty Ashton and Matty Lees have been named in the England Knights 20-man squad for the match against Jamaica at Castleford on Friday (15 October, 7.45pm).
Matty Ashton, 23, who plays as a fullback for Warrington Wolves, played junior rugby at Mayfield under the tutelage of Dean Hartley and Marvin Connolly up to under 16 level.
He was trained by Matt Calland (now Rochdale Hornets’ head coach) at under 18s level before making his debut in the Mayfield open age side.
After two seasons with the Mayfield NCL side, Ashton decided to try his luck in Australia and had a successful season with the Mullumbimby Giants team in New South Wales before returning to the UK.
Ashton joined Super League team Warrington Wolves at the start of the 2020 season after a spell at Swinton Lions RLFC, during which he was named Betfred Championship Young Player of the Year.
St Helens prop Matty Lees – also a Mayfield junior graduate – will undertake post-Grand Final fitness tests before joining the squad later next week. Lees, 23, made his first team debut at Wakefield in 2017, joining St Helens the following year.
Lees was named Super League’s Young Player of the Year and also took away the same award at the Saints Awards Dinner.
England Knights Head Coach Paul Anderson said: “Through the Knights programme we’re investing in the future of England Rugby League, and although we’ve had a few injuries and promotions to the senior set up, it’s created opportunities for others to come in and show what they can do. I’m really excited about working with this group of players and helping them realise their potential.”
England Knights will spend the week in camp in Leeds preparing for the Jamaica clash, which is also a testimonial match for Castleford Tigers’ Jordan Turner who is expected to line up for the ‘Reggae Warriors’. The Knights’ preparation also includes a joint field session with Shaun Wane’s senior squad at Leeds Rhinos’ Emerald Headingley stadium.
Anderson added: “The Knights is about developing talent, preparing well and competing hard. My job is to prepare players for the next step, the senior international team, and the connectivity between the two squads is massive.
“In camp players will be exposed to the critical differences between what they experience day-in and day-out with their clubs, and what they can expect as England internationals.
“For some of these players the chance to represent the senior side may come at this year’s World Cup, for others it might be 2025.”
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