Ashton declared Rookie of the Year

Matty Ashton has been named the Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year for 2020.

Ashton’s electrifying pace caught the eye in his breakthrough Super League season in what was a continuation of a meteoric rise for the 22-year-old, who was playing amateur rugby just over two years ago for Rochdale Mayfield.

He was subsequently picked up by Swinton Lions, where he ended the 2019 season as the Championship’s top try-scorer and named the competition’s Young Player of the Year.

That earned him a move to Warrington and he exceeded even his own expectations, being selected for the club’s opening game of the season against Wigan and going on to play 13 games, scoring nine tries in total, including pivotal scores in a Challenge Cup victory over St Helens and a last-gasp winner against Castleford.

In the League Express annual Readers’ Poll prior to Christmas, Ashton was voted the Rookie of the Year by the readers, earning 38 per cent of the vote, with Hull FC’s Joe Cator in second place with 26.5 per cent.

League Express editor Martyn Sadler said: “Matty has overcome some brilliant competition to win this award, which has previously been a catalyst for some wonderful careers.

“His rise from the amateur game to Super League is a wonderful story and an inspiration for many, who still haven’t got their opportunity after their junior rugby days have come to an end.

“I will very much look forward to watching the rest of his career closely.”

The award was first created in 2008 to recognise the best player with ten or fewer Super League appearances at the start of the season. Previous winners include Sam Tomkins, Jermaine McGillvary and John Bateman.

Ashton becomes the first Warrington Wolves player to ever win the award.

Meanwhile League Express has confirmed that it will not make an award of the Albert Goldthorpe Medal for the 2020 season, after the disrupted season.

“The Albert Goldthorpe Medal is awarded to the player who comes out at the top of the table at the end of the regular season,” said Sadler.

“But that depends on every club having played the same number of matches, and every player having an opportunity to win the award by accumulating points during the season in Super League games.

“Unfortunately in 2020 the disruption was so great because of the pandemic that we have decided to defer the award for a year.

“But as far as the Rookie of the Year award is concerned, that is awarded on a different basis and in fact there was probably a record number of rookies making their debuts in the competition, as you will find if you get hold of a copy of the Rugby League Yearbook 2020-21, which lists all last season’s debutants.”

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