David Clegg Continues His In-Depth Introduction Of The Senior Players Of Our U19s Squad With Lewis Fairhurst
As a native of Bickerhaw, on the outskirts of Wigan, it is hardly surprising that young Lewis Fairhurst started playing rugby with his local club, but, that he later continued his career with none other than archrivals, St Helens, is rather the more so.
His first introduction to the game, though, had come via his older brother, Ryan, who frequently included him in games with his own mates in the local park. That Lewis got used to the rough and tumble, this involved, with lads a couple of years older than himself, was to stand him in good stead throughout his career to date, as he, far more often than not, ended up playing with and against teams of players at least twelve months older than himself.
Indeed, when he first followed Ryan down to Hindley ARLFC, at the age of six, he was the only one that young, so he even started off mixing it with lads one and even two years older than himself, and this has just continued to be the case, ever since. This, he felt, was some indication of the fact that he was considered good enough to be able to cope in that situation, and it encouraged him to remain at the club for a remarkable twelve year period, right through to the age of eighteen.
Throughout this time, he almost always turned out at hooker, although he started his very first match at half back before being moved the hooking role. The highlight of his time with them came with their winning the North West Challenge Shield, when they beat West Bank, 28-18, in the final. On a personal front, his contribution to the team’s effort was often noted by his achieving Top Tackler Award, though when they progressed to U14 level he was recognised, for the first of three consecutive seasons, as Player of the Year.
It invariably happens that when teams reach their early teens, they attract a great deal of attention from local professional outfits, and so it was for Lewis’s side, with scouts from both Wigan and St Helens showing considerable interest in the squad in general, but with the latter club showing rather more interest in Lewis himself. An invitation to meet with their officials, at the age of fourteen led directly to his joining their U16s side for the following two years.
As with all St Helens sides, they proved to be a strong team, and over two seasons, each comprising of eight games, they won all but two of them. Most significant for Lewis was his relocation on a regular basis to half back, a position he had not played in since that first half of his very first game some eight years earlier. Lewis attributes much of the team’s success to the quality of their coaches, the most well-known of whom was Tommy Martin, whose own personal skills around tactical kicking helped develop Lewis’s own ability in this area, considerably.
As with many youngsters, moving up to the U19s, where there is a three year age span, somewhat limits their chances of selection in their first year at that level, and, although this did improve for him significantly during his second season, in the end things did not quite work out as he would have hoped, and so he looked around for another club.
One of those he contacted was Salford, and, in fact, within the hour they became the first to return his call, inviting here for the first of two meeting with, initially Head Coach, Martin Gleeson, while the second was with Head Coach elect for the 2016 season, Garreth Carvell.
He was quickly persuaded that here was where his future lay.
“After meeting them, I was convinced that this was the club I wanted to be at,” he insists. “Others came in for me, but I had already made up my mind to come here.
“I have settled in really well, and can’t wait to get started. I want to have the chance to show the skills and talent I have, and by using these around the other players, hopefully we can make the team work.
“Salford is a growing club, and I believe it is going to be the equal of most others in Super League.”
With a full season in which to achieve all this, Lewis is hoping that he will have sufficiently impressed the coaches for them to offer him a further contract, this time with the first team next season, as he is determined to become that Super League player he has always wanted to be.