TWO years ago, it looked as if Karlton Bates’ chance had gone when he was released by Warrington Wolves.

The story of his return to his hometown club is one of never giving up.

After captaining the Priestley College academy team – run in partnership with The Wire – the 17-year-old from Fearnhead has impressed enough to earn a contract to play for the club’s under 19s.

“I know there are people who would have given up if they’d had the setbacks I’ve had, but if you want something I believe you’ve got to go out and work for it,” he said.

A late arrival to the game, Bates did not pick up a rugby ball in anger until the age of 15.

However, his potential became clear while playing for Rylands Sharks and he was quickly asked to join training at Warrington Wolves.

“I thought I’d made it and took my foot off the gas,” he said.

“I know for a fact my effort level could have been higher, but I wasn’t ready.

“I learned a lot from that experience because I was heartbroken when I was released.”

Despite the blow, Karlton never gave up.

He kept playing, working on his strength and fitness and watched as many rugby matches as possible, analysing team strategies.

However, it was joining Priestley College’s rugby team that led to his second chance.

Lee Mitchell and Lee Westwood – community coaches at the Warrington Wolves Foundation – work with students in the Cat 3 academy to develop all aspects of their game.

It was during a match against Wigan’s Cat 3 academy that Bates caught the eye of Wolves’ Head of Youth Peter Riding, who invited him in to discuss his future.

“I turned up with my boots, kit and bottle of water so that if he asked me to training again, I was ready to start straight away and that’s what happened,” Bates said.

“When I was told I had a contract, I was like a kid at Christmas because it is something I have been working so hard for.”

Mitchell said Bates was a prime example of how Priestley’s academy aimed to give players a second chance or the opportunity to be discovered for the first time.

“Rugby is a late maturation sport and some players can be missed if they don’t develop until late,” he said.

“Thanks to the academy, we are already seeing lads develop a greater love for the sport and more of them are going out to play in the local community.”