Young frontrower Yusuf Aydin got his first taste of Super League last season for Wakefield Trinity and is out for more in 2021.
Only 20, and already a professional after picking up a rugby ball for the first time just six years ago, Aydin debuted against Hull FC in September.
The prop went on to make two more first-team appearances in 2020 and is eager to add to that tally at Trinity this year.
“We’ve discussed our goals in groups. Mine is to earn more respect from the older players through my performances and hopefully play more games than I did last year,” says Aydin.
“Chris Chester says the onus is on me to get into the 17. He said you’re potentially looking at playing a lot of game-time this year, so you need to train well and get selected.
“I love being here, it’s my hometown club.”
Standing at six feet one inch and weighing in around 100 kilograms, the forward says his strengths as a player are his fitness and athleticism.
“Compared to other prop forwards, I’d say I’m not the biggest, but the way the game is going it’s beginning to favour the role I play, with bigger minutes in the middle, on the back of tired, bigger middles,” he says.
“Hopefully I can bring that into the first team.”
Born and raised in Wakefield, Aydin came through Trinity’s Academy ranks but only starting playing Rugby League as a teenager. But he made his international debut for Turkey, the country of his father, in 2019.
“My mum’s English, my dad’s Turkish,” he explained.
“I started playing when I was 14, nearly 15, and that was through the school team. A teacher said they were short on numbers and I was quite big for my age, so why didn’t I come down and play.
“From there one thing led to another. I didn’t expect much, but after I went to play a game at school and I had a few training sessions with my local club Eastmoor Dragons. And then before I knew it September had rolled around and I was starting with Wakefield’s scholarship.
“I wasn’t into sport when I was younger; it wasn’t my thing.”
Aydin insists that pre-season is on track at Wakefield and the team is approaching the new season positively.
“It’s been different to last year,” he said.
“Normally we start at the beginning of October but this year we didn’t start until early January. Coming into pre-season at the start of the New Year was refreshing for a lot of us, because we’d been going at it 12-plus months almost by the end of the season. But now we’re just looking good.”
Trinity struggled last year and won just five of their 19 matches, finishing second from bottom on the Super League ladder.
Many are expecting them to be involved in the relegation battle this season, but Aydin says that relegation has not been discussed by the squad.
“No there’s been no talk of it at all, it hasn’t been mentioned,” he insists.
“We’ve sat down and we’ve spoken about setting a better culture and having more accountability for our actions, both at training and away from training and on the field.
“We’ve set some non-negotiables for how we want to play in both attack and defence, and if we can do that and create a better a culture then we’re going to go far.”
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