David Clegg Introduces Former Warrington U19s Prop, Daniel Murray
Whilst by far the vast majority of young players grow up with an inherent desire to play for their home town club, our recently acquired former Warrington Academy prop forward, Dan Murray determined that other issues would hold sway as to which club he signed for. It mattered not that the home town club in question was none other than the mighty Wigan Warriors.
“In discussions with my father, some time before, I had decided that I would join whichever club moved first to sign me,” he explains. “As it happened both Wigan and Warrington attended the same match, to watch me, but it was Warrington who were the first to follow up with an offer, and so that was where I went.”
When you consider that Dan had been playing for Wigan amateur side, Orrell St James’s, from the age of five, one has to wonder at their tardiness in allowing the Wolves to steal a march on them.
“I was eighteen months old when I was first taken to watch my older brother playing at Orrell, and so it was only natural for me to follow in his footsteps,” he recounts. “I remember my first game, in the U7s, where I was two years younger than most of the others, when the first time I got the ball I ran in the opposite direction to the way we were playing, totally disregarding the touchline on the way.”
Nevertheless, even then he was comfortably able to hold his own because what he lacked in experience he made up for in size.
“I was always big for my age, so much so that, by the age of seven, I had to be kitted out in an U9s strip,” he recalls.
His size was certainly useful in enhancing his on-field performances, and he was a regular among the try scorers, with an average of around two per match, encouraged by the fact that he received a pound per try, from his grandma.
His ten year stay there saw him develop a good understanding with half back, Josh Wood, both on and off the field, and the pair became the mainstay of the team, as time wore on. One of their tasks was to welcome new arrivals to their team, and a certain Jake Bibby, aged fourteen, was one who fell into that category.
“It’s great how we all ended up here at Salford,” enthuses Dan. “My father was elated when he knew I was coming to Salford, with Josh being here already.”
It was on the back of a quite successful U14s season, that, the following year, scouts from the two, aforementioned, professional clubs, turned up to watch the second of the two U15 fixtures, against St Helens side, Bold Miners, who had been undefeated in any match, over several seasons, until Orrell had beaten them in the earlier one of these.
If anything the whole team surpassed that presious performance, but it was Dan who stood out and attracted the attention of both sets of scouts, and he duly abided by his decision to go to the club which showed the greatest desire to acquire his services.
His first outing with his new side was an U15 home fixture against an exceptionally big Bradford side, which unfortunately the Wolves were unable to overcome, and he had to wait until the second match to get his first victory in a Warrington, shirt, away at, of all places, Salford, where he scored his customary two tries. It was however, the defeat of St Helens, a couple of weeks later that gave him the greatest satisfaction of that first season.
Over the five years he stayed with them, he won Player Of The Season on no less than three occasions, at U16s, U19s, and with last season’s Reserve side. The highlight of his time there was in getting to the U18s Grand Final, which they lost by two points, to an extremely strong Wigan outfit.
Twelve months ago, far from the rigours of an English winter, Dan could be found, briefly, playing in the French Rugby League with Avignon, as a result of an arrangement, between the two clubs, of utilising and developing players to help them, and each other. Dan certainly found it a broadening experience, living, as he did, with a small group of players, one of whom was Australian, and with whom, unsurprisingly, he became friendly.
On the field, things were equally successful, with three wins from five outings, and Dan benefited from having to adjust to the increased pace and physicality, which was a significant step up from playing with the Warrington U19s.
On his return to the Halliwell-Jones, he set his sights upon achieving a fulltime contract by the end of the season – something he achieved by joining us here at Salford.
“It all happened very quickly, over a couple of weeks, last May, and I was pleased to be coming here, at the start of November, to join up for pre-season training,” he proudly maintains. “When I arrived I found a very tightly-knit group, which immediately included me into it. I have my own role, and that is both accepted, and valued.
“It has been my first experience of training full-time, and I have been struck by the attention to detail that this brings. The two friendly games have been great on a number of fronts. It has been an opportunity to get used to playing alongside the rest of the lads, and to gain awareness of their individual characteristics. I also got to wear the Salford shirt for the first time, at Rochdale.
“My goal for this year is to make my Super League debut, and then to build on that, thereafter.”