Opportunity knocks for young players, says Marshall

Richard Marshall believes the COVID-19 outbreak could give rise to the birth of a new generation of talent.

The St Helens assistant coach, who is a great advocate of youth development, expects young talent to get an opportunity at the top level once the action returns.

“The circumstances are terrible, but with anything like this there is always a positive and some young players will get to play at the top level for the first time later this year.

“If we are playing three times a week, the same 17 players will not play consecutive games, that’s not viable or healthy. What it means is young players, those on the cusp of getting their breakthroughs, will be presented with that opportunity and they will get the accolades they deserve. All the clubs are running reserve grades now and I think they will look back on the decision to bring it back as a very smart one as it will provide them with more depth to cover their squads.”

Marshall believes many young players will now be in isolation, but they will be preparing to take the opportunity with both hands.

“There will be players who look back at 2020 who remember being in lockdown positively and remember it as a time when they were productive and it aided their development. Listen, it’s horrendous at the moment, but you’ve got to make the best of the situation. I think the players and Rugby League will put their hands up and hopefully it could reinvigorate our game.”

Marshall is using his downtime to complete his Masters degree in elite coaching.

“I had a conversation with Mike Rush, who is really good on CPD (Continuing Professional Development) and self-development.

“I’m doing the course at UCLAN (University of Lancashire). I’m, not going over there currently, it’s all online learning, but hopefully I’ll come out with a Masters in coaching. I’m doing some learning at the moment, which is brilliant, but I’m reading journals and articles and that will hopefully give me the degree at the end if I’m clever enough to pass. Coaching is more than getting out on the field with a whistle and I’m learning about that every day.”

Next week marks a year since Marshall left Halifax, a club with whom he enjoyed unexpected success before his departure.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t missing being a head coach,” he said.

“But I’ve worked with Justin Holbrook, who is brilliant, went to Wembley, experienced a Grand Final win and now I’m working with Kristian Woolf.

“I’m working at a fantastic club. I loved my time at Halifax and learnt a lot about what to do and what not to do, but the timing was right to leave. I was in the right place at the right time in terms of St Helens.

“I have ambitions to be a head coach again at some point, but I’m really happy getting my teeth into this role. I’m looking after the defensive side of the game currently and I think I’ll be a more rounded coach at the end of this experience.

“It’s a wonderful club, it really is, not just because it wins trophies, but there are good who are good at their job and the culture is fantastic.”