RYAN Johnston’s name will go into the history books as the scorer of the last try at Wilderspool Stadium.
The impact hooker crossed twice for Wolves’ under 16s against Cumbria Regional Academy counterparts in Thursday’s final game at the ground.
His historic second, burrowing through two attempted tackles to seal a 46-16 success, came in the 67th minute – ironically against many of his school mates.
The 16-year-old is from Barrow and was playing his first game in a six-week Wolves trial, after having only trained with the squad for the first time 24 hours earlier.
“It’s a great start to my six weeks. Never in a million years did I expect this,” he said.
Johnston, usually a scrum half for club team Dalton, admitted he knew little about Wilderspool Stadium before turning up for the game. After all, he was only five years old the last time a first-team game was staged at the ground in 2003.
But ex-Wolves stars Mike Nicholas and Mark Forster were invited to give a pre-match dressing room talk to Gary Chambers’ squad and the young players hit the field in inspired mood, taking a 16-0 lead inside 12 minutes.
Johnston said: “As soon as we heard the ex-professionals talking to us about the ground before the game it set home how much it really means to everyone and how much we needed to do justice to it.
“They talked about the big names that had played there and how they had beaten the Aussies, which is all a credit to the Warrington club. So it’s good to send it off in a good fashion.”
It has been something of a whirlwind spell for Johnston, who Wolves had watched helping Dowdales School become national champions for a third time in four years at Castleford Tigers’ ground on April 29.
“I’d only had my first training session with the team the night before the game at Wilderspool and so I turned up thinking I might get five minutes on the field and might just get a pass of the ball,” said Johnston, who started playing rugby league at the age of six.
“So it’s unreal to have scored two tries. I’ve felt at home, the lads have all been welcoming and led me around the field because it was a bit different for me playing hooker. I probably owe them the try because they were the ones who got me the spot to be in place to score.
“I never dreamt of this. I thought I’d be playing amateur rugby, so to be the scorer of the last try at Wilderspool hasn’t really sunk in.”