Former Mayfield players in Warrington's Challenge Cup final squad

Date published: 07 June 2024

There is no National Conference rugby this weekend at Mayfield due to the Betfred Challenge Cup final being played at Wembley. This year’s final sees Warrington Wolves take on Wigan Warriors. Normally that means a weekend off for clubs, players, and officials at community club level.

At local club Rochdale Mayfield however, there is a real buzz and sense of anticipation about the place as the game approaches. Not just because of the magnitude of the event but also because when Warrington coach Sam Burgess named his 21-man squad for the final there were two former Mayfield lads in it.

Matty Ashton and Max Wood are making their mark in the world of rugby league, Matty has taken the Super League by storm since his introduction at Warrington in 2020. With 18 tries last season he has made himself one of the best, at the highest level of rugby league.


Matty Ashton started playing at Mayfield aged eight
Matty Ashton started playing at Mayfield aged eight


Heywood lad Matty began his rugby at Mayfield as an 8-year-old and played there right up to open age when he decided to try his luck in Australia. He did a season with the Mullumbimby Giants in New South Wales before coming home and signing for Swinton Lions where he was named Betfred Championship player of the year 2019.

Matty then signed at Warrington at the beginning of the 2020 season and has a meteoric rise to fame. While at Mayfield he was coached by Marvin Connolly and Dean Hartley, who he keeps in touch with.


Max Wood playing his last game for Mayfield before his move to super league side Wigan Warriors
Max Wood playing his last game for Mayfield in 2021 before his move to Wigan Warriors


Max Wood, also a Heywood lad, is still only a teenager and has yet to reach his full potential but he already has several Super League appearances for the Wolves under his belt. Max started his rugby early, he was only four when he began at Mayfield and it was obvious from the start that he had potential, a big strong forward with a never say die attitude he soon attracted the attention of the big clubs.

He was coached right through by his dad, Mayfield player and coach Steve Wood, assisted along the way by Damian Corcoran and Damian Mitchell. He played a couple of games at open age but was already signed at Wigan Academy, where he made a real name for himself before Sam Burgess arrived at Warrington and made Max his first signing for the Wolves.

To be playing prop at any level when you are 19 is a big ask, one of the toughest positions on the field in the toughest sport in the world, but to be playing at Super League level takes something special, and that's what Max has, by the bucket load. Last week Max played a huge part in the Super League game against Wigan but had to be withdrawn after a rib cartilage injury. Up to that point he was without doubt the best forward on the pitch. Max and coach Sam Burgess both have their fingers crossed that he can report fit come the big day. 


Max Wood playing for Mayfield
Max Wood playing for Mayfield


Both Max and Matty still have an involvement at Mayfield and are both regularly seen at the club. Despite their position and fame, they are both still keen to help and give something back to their club and indeed their sport. Mayfield runs a Building the Future programme overseen by Carl Abraham. Carl goes around schools in the Rochdale area introducing and coaching rugby league to local kids. He couldn't do this on his own so he asked the two stars if there was anything they could do to help, without a moment’s hesitation both stepped forward and are now, when commitments allow, regularly seen in the schools, coaching the kids with Carl and regular assistants Harry Sheridan and Elijah Ponton.

Mayfield vice chairman and development officer Carl Abraham said: ''I was absolutely delighted when Max and Matty approached me and said they both wanted to get on board and be a part of our Building the Future coaching team.

''The club has always had a open door policy and always looking to develop on and off the field so it was a no brainer to bring both individuals on board to enhance our already successful programme. I and everyone at the club are super proud to see how well both Matty and Max are preforming at the highest level and don't think you could get two better role models to showcase around the borough promoting not only our club but our great sport.'

All at Mayfield send their best wishes to Matty and Max and hope they lift the trophy at Wembley on Saturday. 

As always, the last word goes to mum. Max's mum Shelley, who is also the club secretary and child protection  officer at Mayfield. She said: "I can't tell you how proud I am. Through his perseverance, self-belief, and dedication he has earned his place in the 21-man squad. If his injury means he is not selected it won't detract from how proud I am of what he has achieved so far. He is living the dream, the dream he's had since being four years old. As his family we are all here supporting him, and we can't wait to see where that journey takes him."

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