Midlands Hurricanes are on the rise – and Jason Bass is back to help them take next step

Having first played for the club when it started out as Coventry Bears, Jason Bass is confident the new-look Hurricanes can build a strong future for rugby league in the Midlands.

RETURNING hero Jason Bass can see a bright future ahead for Midlands Hurricanes.

As the only member of the current squad that was around when Coventry Bears made their League One debut in 2015, Bass has certainly seen a raft of changes at the club, not least a change in ownership, a change of identity and, most recently, a move into the main arena at the Alexander Stadium.

When Bass was first given his chance in the first team, Alan Robinson was heading up operations of the club he had helped establish years earlier, but when he left and Greg Wood and Mike Lomax took over, a whole new vision took shape at the Midlands’ only professional outfit.

And after six years of playing in the north, Leicester-born and bred Bass is back and delighted to see so much positivity around the club.

“There have been massive changes from when I was here last and that’s thanks to all the work that people have done over the years to lay the foundations for where we are now,” 28-year-old Bass told Rugby League World.

“We simply wouldn’t be here without the hard work and effort Alan, and everyone who was there at the very start, put in. But it’s a new chapter now with new owners and a coach, who all share the same vision for the club – and it’s a vision everyone can get behind.

“A lot of attitudes have changed as well. When I first started here we were still trying to find our feet, figuring out how things were going to work and getting used to being a professional club playing in League One.

“We had to build ourselves up from there, but now we know what we’re doing in League One and understand what’s required of us to be a professional club.

“Now it’s about pushing that on to the next stage and beyond. That means competing against the top clubs now, then being up at the top of League One and then, hopefully, eventually getting into the Championship. 

“It’s about progression and setting achievable targets – which is what the club has always done.

“I fell in love with rugby league as a kid but there was not much interest in the game in the Midlands, so to see a club come in and put the groundwork in to build it organically rather than just throwing money at it has been great.

“There is a solid base in place to build on now and the people involved all have the same desire to see the game grow so the longevity is there for us to do something special.”

And for Bass, he’s hoping that all this positive growth can go on to have and similar effect on on-field results.

As well as posting their highest-ever winning score in the 70-16 victory over Newcastle, the Hurricanes ran Rochdale Hornets, North Wales Crusaders and Hunslet close before going down to narrow defeats in the opening weeks of the new campaign. In the past, fixtures against these play-off regulars might have ended in heavy losses, so Bass knows his teammates can take a lot out of their performances in the early stages of 2024.

“Yes we’ve lost narrowly a couple of times, but we have been able to take a lot of positives from those games as well as learning some big lessons from them,” added the winger.

“If we can put those lessons into action we can start winning some of those tight games instead.

“It is still early days for this season, but we went into this year with some different goals as a squad and one of those was to challenge some of the top teams. 

“We’ve already gone up against a couple of them and come away with a few bruises but also some positives.

“We just need to realise that we are a quality side. We’re still dipping our toes in a bit at the start of games and waiting to see what the opposition throws at us rather than just going out and trying to control the game for how we want to play.

“We have a young side but also guys with real potential – they just lack a bit of experience. But if we can start games strongly, and take control early, we can have a good year. 

“If we can do that then confidence will grow. So we have to get that mental attitude right of knowing that we’re a good side and can play the game we want to rather than responding to what is thrown at us.

“The hard work has been done to build a squad that can challenge for the play-offs this year. We have big ambitions now and need to start delivering on them.”

The time Bass spent away from the club allowed him to try his hand at a higher level of the game, making a combined total of 81 appearances for York (2019-21, and 2023 on loan) and Sheffield (2022-23) before returning to his roots on another loan deal last season.

When the opportunity came to make that move back to the club a permanent one, it was one he couldn’t turn down, and he feels he can now offer something different to the squad than he could when he was just starting his career with the Bears.

“When I finished university I knew I wanted to give rugby league a real go and try my hand in the Championship,” said Bass, who had played league in the summer months whilst on the books at Leicester Tigers before switching codes for good to join the RFL’s Regional Academy in the area.

“If I wanted to do that my only real option was to move north, so I moved to Leeds and spent a few years proving to myself that I could play at that level.

“After speaking to Mark (Dunning – Midlands coach) last year and hearing of the opportunity to get back involved here my ears pricked up straight away. 

“The chance to keep pushing the vision of the club was something I wanted to be a part of. 

“I have got a lot of love for the game and Midlands as a whole and this is a chance to repay some of the faith the club showed in me when I was younger.

“When I first started with the club I was an utter novice and just trying to take on as much information as I could, but after cementing my skills in the Championship I have come back as an older head who knows the game a lot better.

“We have some other leaders in the team, but we also have some great younger players coming through in the outside backs and if I can be there for them and offer them any advice, or even be a shoulder to cry on, to make them better players, then that’s what I’ll do.”

First published in Rugby League World magazine, Issue 496 (May 2024)

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