Bastian worries about young players’ futures

Hull Kingston Rovers head of youth John Bastian has admitted there is a danger young players who have been deprived of action in 2020 could turn away from Rugby League for good.

And he admits that such a long break will harm the development of those who stay in the sport.

Academy rugby is on hiatus until 2021, with many teenagers facing the prospect of going almost an entire year without a competitive game of Rugby League due to the impact of Covid-19. However, Rovers have given opportunities to some of their young stars like Rowan Milnes and Will Tate in recent weeks.

But Bastian conceded to League Express that the break is difficult for some young players’ development.

“Because of the legislation regarding Covid and Rugby League I would say yes, it will hurt some players a lot,” said Bastian.

“Of the juniors that haven’t been able to play this year, they’ve got to work really hard into the fitness side of things, the strength side and the skills side and they’ve had to become very independent.

“Coaches can only do so much from a distance, and the lads have had to grab the bull by the horns – they’ve had to grow up a lot this year. Hopefully when we do get back to normality, they will stay with the game and recognise that they can overcome this hurdle.”

Bastian also admits he is worried that some of the game’s young prospects may naturally turn away from Rugby League due to a lack of game-time.

“I think that is a danger, for sure,” he said.

“When you get distracted and you start doing other things and try to get into that routine of training starting all over again, it will be a shock for some: but once we’re back into a rhythm hopefully most of them will stick with it.

“If you love it, you will stay involved. If you want to be around your mates, and you’ve hopefully got ambition to play at a higher level then you’ll be looking forward to getting back and getting involved with it again, and I include the community game in that. I just can’t wait to see the young lads back in, doing what they do.”

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