David Clegg Introduces U19s Second Rower, Adam Jones
That all players relish playing in really big matches, such as cup semi-finals, is beyond doubt, but for Salford Red Devils’ U19s forward, Adam Jones, this has been something of a bitter – sweet affair. He certainly is no stranger to the big occasion, having featured in a significant number of semi-finals, when with Wigan St Pat’s, but, with one exception, invariably ending up on the losing side, even when his side had been odds on favourites to win.
On the one occasion they did eventually progress to the final, it was in no small part down to Adam, himself, who helped overturn an 18-0 deficit, by weighing in with three tries to earn a 46-18 victory. That the team went on to secure a 7-2 victory, over Blackbrook, in the final was, however, somewhat wasted on Adam – he was away on holiday and missed the game completely!
It was with Chorley Panthers, as a seven year old that he first started playing, for, although living in the Aspull area of Wigan, his father was coach of the Panthers’ U8s side, and so Adam became part of his father’s squad, not just for one season, but for the whole four years he stayed there, as it was practice in the club for the coaches to move up the age range with the same group of boys.
Having his father as team coach didn’t pose any difficulties for him whatsoever, as he never gave the situation a second thought and simply responded to him in the same way that all the other lads did. Operating at stand-off, throughout his time there, he obviously saw a lot of the ball, and consequently was a frequent scorer of tries. This was recognised by his peers, in his last two seasons, when they voted him Players’ Player of the Season.
His move to St Pats, at the age of eleven, came as a result of his having made new friends, all of whom played for that renowned club. This coincided with a change of playing positions for him, as, having grown quite significantly, he was moved to loose forward, which he found he preferred as it afforded him more freedom, with rather less responsibility, than had previously been the case. This was somewhat to the good as, unsurprisingly, expectations at the club were extremely high, and losses in semi-finals most unusual.
Even in the league, where they had been carrying all before them, their due deserts also avoided them, for, with a couple of fixtures remaining, they lost a number of players for various reasons, and so that title, too, evaded them. Adam’s contribution to the side, however, was again recognised by his team-mates, at the end of his first season there, by his once more being voted Players’ Player of the Year.
After two seasons with St Pat’s he moved across town to join Wigan St Jude’s, the amateur club for whom he enjoyed playing most of all. This was down to the fact that expectations were slightly less, coupled with the quality of coaching he received from former Wigan and Warrington scrum half, Keith Holden, which led to their getting to yet another semi-final, this time in the National Cup, no less, losing by two points to Leeds outfit. Milford.
At the age of fourteen, he was invited, by Salford scouts, to join their Scholarship – an offer which he promptly accepted. He tells me he has thoroughly enjoyed himself over the five seasons he has been here, but insists that last season, working under the direction of then, Head Coach, Martin Gleeson, was extremely special to him.
“I’d watched Martin playing for Wigan, when I was young,” he explains, “so I was thrilled when the player I had admired so much became our coach.”
Despite still being only eighteen years of age, Adam is quite remarkable in having already had first team experience on not one, but two occasions. The first of these came almost eighteen months ago, when he was on the bench for the pre-season friendly against Dewsbury.
“I came on for the second half,” he recalls. “They were a big strong physical side, and it was really tough for us with being such a young group.”
Undaunted by the size of the opposition, Adam says he just got on with the job he had been given, and his reward came twelve months later, when he was included in the squad which played in the friendly against Rochdale.
“That was a lot better, because I was a year older, and quite a bit bigger,” he explains. “I would also have played in the other friendly against North Wales had it not been cancelled.”
Now in his final year with the U19s, Adam is hopeful that, having had his appetite wetted by those two occasions, his contribution and hard work, over his time here, will have gone some way to earning him a first team contract, at the end of the season.