There’s more good news coming out of Hull FC’s Centre of Excellence, as 18-year-old Matty Laidlaw has gone from Sports College student to ‘Rising Star’.
The prop forward has been trying to catch the eye over the last two years, after he was not initially offered an academy contract with the Black & Whites.
Subsequently, he enrolled to Hull FC’s Sports College in September 2020, playing for the college team whilst gaining an education on a sports diploma course.
Speaking to hullfcfoundation.com, Laidlaw said: “Initially it was frustrating when I didn’t get offered a contract with the Academy but it just made me hungry to prove everybody wrong.
“Luckily enough, I got the chance to test myself against some physical opponents for the college team.
“I remember playing quite well in a game against some really good amateur players when the college team played against Halifax. That was when I started to realise my game was improving and that gave me a lot of confidence.
“It was not long after I had a good game for the Under 17s against Newcastle when I sat down and had a conversation with some of the staff. They talked to me about how much they thought I had improved and that I was going to play for the Academy team against Bradford just a few days later.
“I played a few games for the Academy and then I got offered the contract in August last year.”
It’s full steam ahead now for Laidlaw, who has become a key staple in the Hull FC Academy side, helping them attain an unbeaten start to 2022 after winning their first seven matches of the season.
He has also featured regularly for the Black & Whites’ Reserves outfit this year, testing himself against more senior opponents.
Laidlaw can now fully focus on his rugby league career having completed his education at the Sports College, paying tribute to the structure at the Centre of Excellence.
“I was doing a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sport with the Hull FC Sports College and I was able to balance that with my rugby league really well,” he said.
“I really, really enjoyed it. The set-up at the Centre of Excellence is really good for helping you get to know everyone. I had a great relationship with all of the lads down there, which made me look forward to getting out on the field with them on a Wednesday afternoon.
“Because the Academy and Sports College is based in the same place, the two work hand in hand really well.”
Laidlaw is the latest player to be promoted from the Black & Whites’ Academy to the Rising Stars group, following a similar path to fullback Davy Litten, who has impressed on loan at Whitehaven in recent weeks as he looks to gain more experience playing in the Betfred Championship.
Like Litten, Laidlaw is now training with the first team squad, where he has the opportunity to learn from international talent like Chris Satae, Ligi Sao and Kane Evans.
The youngster is still taking the experience in, explaining how he was taken aback when head coach Brett Hodgson broke the news to him just a few weeks ago.
“After I played in the Academy Origin match last month, Brett [Hodgson] said he had been impressed with my progression and that he was going to invite me to come to join in training with the first team.
“I was absolutely buzzing when he told me and I was pretty lost for words at the time. I think I’m still lost for words now!
“It’s been an intense couple of weeks but I’ve enjoyed the challenge of training at that level. I remember doing a yardage drill on one of my first days, I ran it straight and it was like running into a brick wall. I think I was seeing stars for a couple of minutes! But that’s the physical challenge I need and it’s something I’m really enjoying at the minute.”
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