Nickolay on Academy 2022

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It has been a season of hard work and foundations being laid by the club’s youth coaches under Head of Youth Development Rob Nickolay, who brings the curtain down on his first season in the role with the Tigers.

The Tigers took their season to one more game after last Saturday’s victory over London Broncos after securing the in golden point extra time. The Fords’ five tries, but only one conversion was equalled by the capital side scoring four times but converted on three occasions, making 22 points apiece.

Cas defended nobly in the overtime period after London thought they sealed a memorable win with a try next to the line, but it was a knock-on. Marching back up the field the other way, the Fords’ got a penalty for a high tackle and Alfie Dean slotted over the kick to win the game.

“It’s that point of the year where we’re coming towards the end and play-off rugby – but I think you could see some injured bodies out there working hard and that we were a bit low on numbers,” Nickolay said in an honest assessment of the match.

“It is effectively a development game in a development league, it is trying to recreate and give that knock-out rugby experience as part of that development programme. We are able to test the boys under certain circumstances where there is that bit of pressure from knock-out footy.

“I think we will take a few lessons out of it, how to handle that pressure a bit better, but it’s an opportunity that the players have hopefully taken something out of.”

Now with one more fixture for the Fords’ Under 18s squad, Nickolay is hopeful the young guns will finish it off in good fashion with an away day victory in a pressurised situation and learn a big lesson right at the coalface.

“It has been a long slog for the boys and there has been some really good and hard-fought games along the way, but also some that slightly got away from us.

“At the end of the day though there has been plenty of learning opportunities which have been great for them. After this Huddersfield game, it’ll be about dusting ourselves down, preparing for next year and making our plans for 2023. 

“It would be fantastic to see good numbers for the lads and give them a bit of a send-off for their efforts this year representing the club, and I’m sure it will be great for fans to see some of the young stars of the future.”

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