By CHRIS JONES
MATTY ASHTON was the top tryscorer in all three tiers of professional Rugby League in this country last season, having touched down for 30 tries for Swinton Lions.
His form was noticed by Warrington Wolves coach Steve Price, who snapped him up and gave him a two-year contract at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
It means a transition to full-time status for the former Rochdale Mayfield junior, who now has an ambition to break into Price’s first-grade selection plans.
“I was working in a gym on a zero-hours contract, two or three shifts per week in the Village Hotel in Bury, while I was playing for Swinton, but I’ve been playing the game for years,” Ashton, 21, told League Express.
“I grew up in Heywood, near Rochdale, and my dad took me to Rochdale Mayfield when I was about six or seven. I played there until I was 16 and then went to Hopwood Hall College, where I played for Matt Calland.
“When I was 18 I took an opportunity to go and play in Australia for a year with Mullumbimby Giants in the Northern Rivers League. I’d known a couple of people out there who played for them, and it was just a great opportunity. I loved every minute of it. I won some individual trophies with them at the end of the year, but sadly the team didn’t win any trophies.
“I then decided to come back and I managed to get a trial with Swinton, with Matt Calland recommending me to them. After a couple of weeks on trial with them they agreed to give me a contract.
“I’m fortunate to have plenty of pace, and if I’m honest I don’t know where that comes from, but fortunately it allowed me to finish as the top tryscorer in the Championship last season, which was a good achievement.
“Warrington got in contact with Swinton towards the end of the season. The chance to play full-time Rugby League was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down, particularly for a club the size of Warrington.
“I realise I’m now at the bottom of the pecking order with Warrington, but that’s exactly how it was at Swinton a year ago. So I just have to work hard again, and if I get my chance I’ll try to take it with both hands, play my best rugby and hopefully keep my spot.
“Obviously it will be a lot more physical and a lot quicker and it will be up to me to raise my game and do the things that top players can do in Super League.
“In pre-season I am just working on getting faster and stronger and being the best I can be. My ambition now is to make my Super League debut and to go from there one step at a time.
“I can play on either wing, but I played at fullback for most of the year at Swinton.”
And Ashton is keen to pay tribute to the man in charge at his former club.
“Stuart Littler is a quality coach and a quality human being,” he said.
“He does everything he can for the players on a small budget. He treats every player as an individual, which is why team spirit is so high there. They are a great set of lads. I’m sure they will do well again. We will be going back to Swinton to play a pre-season game, so I can’t wait for that.
© League Express (Mon 2nd Dec 2019)