Jason Netherton: We push our players hard, but the rewards could be fantastic!
City of Hull Academy (CoHA) is a hybrid Rugby League Academy using the joint resources of Hull KR and Hull FC. Players join the Academy as under 15 scholars and progress through the ranks until they reach 19 years of age. From there, graduates of the Academy can sign for any professional rugby club, but the direct pathway is to one of Hull’s two Super League Clubs.
CoHA has developed some very exciting athletes, many of which we have featured on GRM articles such as Mikey Lewis, Jack Brown, Elliot Wallis and many more! We have also filmed City of Hull fixtures on several occasions, you can watch CoHA in action at the end of this article.
This year the microscope is on the U19s. Eight players from last year’s squad have signed their first professional contracts, leaving CoHA with a very young cohort to compete against Super League’s toughest future super stars!
I caught up with Jason Netherton, former Leeds Rhinos and Hull Kingston Rovers Second-Row who is now head Coach of City of Hull Academy.
We discussed his playing memories and the upcoming season for CoHA. Here’s what Jason had to say to GRM:
How has amateur rugby changed since your grassroots playing days?
“ I played at a team called Fish Trades from 10-12 years old, then moved to West Hull where I stayed until I turned professional at 16 years old. There was a lot more teams in the community game back then. Our league had 10-12 teams, whereas now there is half that amount unfortunately.
What is your greatest memory as a professional?
“ I’m fortunate that I have a lot of great memories from my playing days and managed to play in some fantastic games. If I had to pick one memory in particular it would be my Super League debut as an 18 year old for Leeds Rhinos against Hull FC at the Boulevard. I literally lived 2 minutes walk away so met the team there and had to walk the streets with my Rhinos tracksuit on which was scary. All of my family were there to watch and we managed to beat Hull too which was a bonus.
What should prospective CoHA players expect from the City Of Hull set up?
“ Any player that comes into our environment should expect a very professional set up. We are a unique academy that has some great resources at our disposal. We also have the benefit of using two top Super League clubs staff and facilities when we need them. We push our players hard in all areas but the rewards at the end of that process could be fantastic.
Of the recent CoHA graduates to sign pro contracts, who impressed you the most?
“ We have had some very good players here at the academy over the last few years that are now starting to poke their noses through at first team level for both Hull KR and Hull FC. We had 8 players sign their first professional contracts last year, which is fantastic and shows that what we are doing works. Without wanting to add any extra pressure on them players, I fully expect that there will be some that will go on to become household names in Hull in the not too distant future.
Who do you think has the most potential to have a break through season this year?
“ We have a young squad here this season with 11 first year players. That was a conscious decision that we made because after being around these boys within the Scholarship environment, we knew that we had a group of players that we could build a healthy culture around that will last for years to come. I’m sure that there will be quite a few of them that will be already drawing the attention of both pro clubs and whilst this year will be hard for us being so young they will gain valuable experience and development that will bare fruit in the years to come I’m sure