Hunslet have, as the 2020 Betfred League 1 campaign draws ever-nearer, confirmed the signing of Anthony Boardman on a one-year deal.
Boardman, who is universally known as AJ, has been snapped up by Head Coach Gary Thornton after having impressed as a trialist in pre-season victories over Championship outfits Bradford Bulls and Batley Bulldogs.
The three-quarter, who has excelled with National Conference League side Dewsbury Moor Maroons in recent seasons, had approached Thornton for an opportunity at a higher level, and the latter’s faith in the 30-year-old has been fully repaid with a couple of impressive displays and a superb attitude in training.
Boardman’s hunger for Rugby League in his fourth decade possibly stems in part from the fact that he spent several years away from the sport in his late teens. He said: “I stopped playing rugby when I was 16 and turned to mountain biking, which went well.
“I reached a good level – elite level in fact – and appeared internationally in a couple of world cups. But I never lost my passion for Rugby League and returned to the sport in 2011, at the age of 21 or so.”
He reflected: “I’m probably best known as a centre but I’ll play anywhere for the team, from fullback right through to loose forward if required.
“I’ve got a good engine, I like to get stuck in, and I won’t back off when the going gets tough.
“I’m a strong runner and I can defend well and I see myself as an all-round team player who will back up the lads next to me.”
He revealed: “I thought when I reached 30, why not give professional Rugby League a go, so I got in touch with GT, who I knew from his days at Dewsbury Moor.
“He was happy to give me trials, training went well and so did the friendly games with Bradford Bulls and Batley Bulldogs.
“GT – who I can’t speak too highly of – has been really supportive and has given me some great tips. He’s confirmed that there’s a place for me at Hunslet and I’ve been happy to put pen to paper.
“I already knew some of the lads here, such as Danny Rowse and Zach Johnson. In fact I’d played as a junior at Shaw Cross alongside Danny from Under 14s to Under 16s. It’s good renewing acquaintance with him and hopefully we’re proof that it’s never too late to turn pro.
“My aim now is to play as much as I can, play to the best of my ability, keep on improving and see how far I can go.”
Thornton said: “It’s really pleasing when you get someone coming in and looking for an opportunity to prove themselves, and that’s exactly what AJ has done.
“He has worked really hard in the pre-season, showed up well in training and the warm up games, and has earned his opportunity to play at a higher level, and deservedly so.
“There is some talent in the amateur game and the way AJ and Danny Rowse have adapted is proof of that. He has slotted into our group really well and has quickly become a popular member due to his hard work in training and committed efforts on the field.
“He is an honest and hard-working lad and realises he still has a lot to learn, but his willingness and eagerness to be better and improve himself means he will be a valuable asset for us in both wing and centre positions.”
Hunslet have introduced a number of attractive packages to suit all requirements and budgets, ranging from the recently-launched `Spirit of 73’ Geoff Gunney Membership (in homage to the all-time great who helped launch New Hunslet following the sale of Parkside in 1973), which costs from £5 per month, to the £50 per month Frank Watson VIP membership, which secures a season ticket, match-day hospitality and a seat at the directors’ table at an away match.
The Graham King Gold Membership, at £26 per month, secures a season ticket and other benefits, while the Mick Coyle Silver Membership (£21 per month) offers a £50 discount off a season ticket, plus benefits.
Hunslet have also pegged season tickets at 2019 prices at £120 (£70 concessions, under 16s free). All packages can be purchased online by clicking here, by ringing 0113 271 2730, or by calling at the club’s offices at the South Leeds Stadium.