Hemel Stags joined forces with Super League side Hull Kingston Rovers in an exciting initiative designed to promote the game of rugby league to school children in Dacorum.
It all began for five of Hull KR’s top players on Monday morning when they had been told to attend a training session in Hull and to take three days’ worth of clothes with them.
Expecting an army-style boot camp, they were relieved to learn that their destination was Hertfordshire – the players then had their phones and wallets taken away from them before being directed to a minibus, driver and road map.
All this had been done to take them out of their comfort zone and push their boundaries in a team and character-building exercise; a few grumbles might have been expected from them but the whole party were in high spirits throughout.
First thing on Wednesday morning, the Super League stars – Maurice Blair, Kevin Larroyer, James Green, Ian Thornley and Matty Marsh – joined Stags community development manager Mike Stewart for an assembly at George Street Primary School in Hemel Hempstead.
Each player introduced himself to the kids and gave a background to their careers, with the youngsters particularly keen to hear from Blair and Larroyer, being from Queensland and Toulouse, respectively.
The Year 6 pupils then asked some prepared questions surrounding the sacrifices, lifestyle and enjoyment of professional Rugby League.
Heading on to Kings Langley Secondary School, the visitors delivered a high quality, fun rugby league session which looked at decision making, catching and passing, and tackling.
Hull man James Green, who was raised locally, made a point of advising all young people to join the Hemel Stags junior teams as that could be the beginning of the road to a professional career.
Prizes of signed shirts, scarves, stickers and official Hull KR playing socks were given out to both schools as a momento of the day.
The previous evening, the Hull KR players came together with the Hemel Stags senior squad for an illuminating training session led by Hull KR assistant coach and former Samoan international Willie Poching.
After the event, a Hemel Stags spokesman said: “The directors, coaches and players of Hemel Stags cannot thank Hull KR – particularly Maurice Blair, Kevin Larroyer, James Green, Ian Thornley, Matty Marsh and of course Willie Poching – for all the work they put in to making it such a memorable day for the kids at two Hemel and district schools.
“Good luck to our friends from Yorkshire for the 2016 Super League season.”