SALFORD RED DEVILS have signed three young Welsh players to play for their Reserves and Academy squads in the 2022 season.
Ieuan Roberts, Jake Lee and Joe Coope-Franklin, who will join the club in 2022, visited the AJ Bell Stadium last week to introduce themselves to the Red Devils’ staff.
All three players have been studying and playing Rugby League at the Wales Rugby League National Development Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd in South Wales, which has an ongoing relationship with the Red Devils.
Coope-Franklin, 19, is a rugby union convert, while Roberts, who turns 20 this month, came through the Aber Valley Wolves club in Caerphilly and has won caps for Wales Under-19s and Wales Students.
Lee, who turned 19 last month, also came through the Aber Valley junior teams whilst also playing once for Cardiff Blue Dragons. He has won caps for Wales Under-16s, -19s and Wales Students levels.
The three players will combine their rugby development with studies at the University of Central Lancashire. They were identified by Paul Rowley, Stuart Wilkinson and Ian Blease during national training camps and their performances within the Wales international pathway programme.
Paul Trainor, Executive Director of the club said “We are really pleased to welcome Ieuan, Jake and Joe to the club. They have greatly impressed Paul, Stuart and Ian during their visits to Wales. It was great to meet the lads and their families to discuss the plans that will be in place for when they join the Reserve set-up for pre-season.”
Paul Rowley, Salford’s Head of Talent and Pathways, said: “Our Welsh partnership has gone from strength to strength and these boys are another example of that.
“From talent identification and development by Stu Wilkinson to housing and educational support by Paul Trainor, these boys have been given a wonderful opportunity to continue the tradition of Welsh stars pulling on the Salford jersey.
“We have complete confidence that each of the lads has both the ability and strength of character to be successful Rugby League players and are very confident these athletes will be the first of many as our work in Wales continues.”
Mark Jones, the head coach of the Wales Rugby League National Development Academy, added: “Coleg y Cymoedd’s partnership with Salford Red Devils and Wales Rugby League is truly flourishing and I am elated for Ieuan, Jake, Joe and Ryan, who are the first players to come through this new Rugby League pathway. They are a testament to all the hard work the Salford, Cymoedd and Wales Rugby League staff have put in over the last 12 months.
“With Salford Red Devils’ history of signing Welsh players, we knew its was a natural fit for Coleg y Cymoedd and the WRL National Development Academy and I am looking forward to the new Welsh boys signing their contracts with Salford in the next few months.
“I would also like to thank UCLAN for all their support and we are looking forward to working with them over the next few years.
“We are the only college in Wales that offers a full time Rugby League programme alongside a student’s education and Welsh players definitely now have a direct pathway to achieve their dreams of playing Super League.”
Pictured (L-R): Paul Rowley (head of rugby development at Salford Red Devisl), Paul Trainor (executive director at Salford Red Devils), Joe Coope-Franklin, Ieuan Roberts, Jake Lee, Paul King (chairman of Salford Red Devils)
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