Thunder sign up their Young gun.
FLEDGLING Gateshead Thunder hooker Reece Young has been signed on senior terms - and is thrown straight into the squad for tomorrow's Championship One opener at Hunslet.
The Gateshead-born 18-year-old has been in Thunder's under-18 side for three years and was set to join the senior ranks when the age-group side completes its fixture list.
However, Thunder rugby director Chris Hood has promoted the talented local lad ahead of the natural schedule, and has backed the new man to shine after showing real promise in first team training.
He said: "Reece has been in our under-18s for three years and he has come on leaps and bounds in the last few weeks.
"He has worked hard, trained very well with the first team and deserves this chance.
"There were five guys in the under-18s we had told we would sign at the end of their season, but Reece has done so well he warrants this happening fast than originally planned.
"Hooker is a very important position and the hooker is the man who gets the team moving after the tackle.
"They have to be very exact and precise because they are always under pressure to get the ball away with the right speed and quality.
"It is a lot of responsibility, but we feel Reece is ready and this is further proof at Thunder if you are good enough you are definitely old enough."
Expecting to have firstchoice half-back Liam Duffy back from injury for tomorrow's Hunslet clash (kick-off 3.00), Hood said first-choice hooker Ryan Clarke has backed Young's promotion.
Hood added: "Ryan is a wellestablished and quality hooker, and I spoke to him earlier this week and said I was thinking of bringing Reece in for the weekend - and he backed the decision all the way.
"For someone like Ryan to say Reece is ready is a big endorsement, and we are excited by what he can do."
Not looking past overturning Thunder's six-point deficit thanks to the RFL administration penalty, Hood continued: "All we are focusing on is getting from minus six to zero - once we do we can kick on from there.
"Until we get back to zero we are not looking past that, so we have not talked about the league as a whole and the season in its entirety. "We totally understand why the RFL docked those points and we know that was something they had to do, but the sooner we return to zero the better."