Warrington Wolves pledge to invest resources in Championship club Swinton Lions

Warrington Guardian: Gareth O'Brien, who will be one of the young players affected by the changes, and Wolves' director of youth development  John Bastian Gareth O'Brien, who will be one of the young players affected by the changes, and Wolves' director of youth development John Bastian

WARRINGTON Wolves will invest in the infrastructure of Championship partners Swinton Lions in a bid to cushion the blow from Super League’s youth structure changes.

New rules in place from the start of next year will scrap the existing youth competitions in favour of a combined under 15s and 16s league and a new under 19s competition, meaning players over the age of 19 will be forced to find a loan club or miss out on vital match experience.

Super League teams will link up with a Championship club to form a partnership that allows five Super League players to be dual-registered between the two sides, placing pressure on the lower league team to provide an environment in which these young players will flourish.

Wolves’ director of youth development John Bastian believes it will be vital for Super League clubs to trust their partners to develop these promising talents, prompting Wolves to help strengthen their partners Swinton through the sharing of resources.

“We have lost the ability to have five over-age players in the Academy now by going to an under 19s competition, so the partnerships will be vitally important, as well as loans to other clubs,” he said.

“It is therefore paramount that we can trust what Swinton Lions are doing when we send those young players over there.

“As a result we will support their coaching infrastructure and give them coach education in the areas that they need, with Richard Marshall linking in with Steve McCormack.

“We will be helping in other areas of expertise, like the physiotherapy and strength and conditioning side, as well as helping them with access to the facilities, too.”

Having fought a long, hard battle to prevent these changes coming into place after huge investment into their own academy set-up, Wolves are now stuck in a position they did not want to find themselves in.

However, Bastian admits that in the face of these enforced rule changes Wolves have to make the best of the situation, which will inevitably lead to a stronger Swinton Lions as they make the most of the plentiful resources Warrington Wolves have at their disposal.

“If we can help all of their players as well as our young players, or even some of our senior players that are coming back from injury, to grow, that helps both clubs,” he said.

“We are not just going to be dipping our toe into this, this is a serious partnership and we will be diving right into it. We want this to last several years and to work.”

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