Fax star Butler bemoans lack of reserve grade

Halifax star Chester Butler believes clubs are missing a trick by not running reserve grade sides.

Butler has proven to be one of several success stories to come out of Fax’s reserve grade system, establishing himself as one of the best young players outside of Super League with a string of impressive performances.

The 22-year-old was picked up by Fax’s reserve grade after impressing at amateur level for Siddal. Butler had joined the amateur powerhouses initially for the social aspects of the sport, but soon moved into the club’s first-grade side.

He was spotted by Halifax, who were keen to make him a member of their reserve grade setup, and after training and playing in a professional environment quickly improved his game.

Off the back of Halifax’s reserve grade, Butler has now found himself in Richard Marshall’s first-grade plans and went to the World Cup with Wales, something he admits would never have been possible without reserve grade.

He, along with Brandon Moore, Elliot Morris and James Woodburn-Hall have all become regulars at the Championship club, and Butler believes the sport is missing out on so many more players in a similar position to him.

“Teams get rid of players who could be world class,” said Butler, who was speaking to Rugby League World ahead of a big feature in the upcoming edition.

“I think they miss out on hidden potential and sometimes it just takes a different environment or coach to make them blossom. Look at Brandon Moore and Elliot Morris, they came in, caused carnage and went straight into the team and are now consistent players. Nick Rawsthorne came to Halifax, before that was on about going to union and packing it in. Next thing he’s off to Hull FC and is now killing it at Toronto. The difference it makes to a player who can have a second chance is massive. A lot of players drop off and go a different route, others want to find that shot and the reserve grade provides that.

“It just gives you the opportunity to show what you’ve got to coaches like Richard Marshall and other coaches of clubs you’re playing against. A lot is down to yourself and how much you want it. When that release hits you, certain people click and need somewhere to try again.”

Butler also believes clubs would benefit financially from establishing reserve grades, with the production line of players helping save costs on signings.

“I think beyond anything it’s a business opportunity missed.

“Halifax have brought it in and got James Woodburn-Hall, myself and so many others. They’ve brought through at least six or seven already that have played fairly consistently from reserve grade.

“Now you imagine as a club what that might have cost to sign external players to take up that game time. When you think with a business head it’s massive and it draws attention to your club too. We need a bit of that in the sport, Australia has it, why can’t we?”

A full feature interview with the Halifax ace will be available next Friday in Rugby League World. Buy in stores or online at totalrl.com/rlw.