The Hull FC Wheelchair side have gone from strength to strength in 2023, thanks in part to progression of their development side.
Two of the players who have completed the jump from the development to the first team are Josh Edwards and Dave Gill – both of whom have featured on numerous occasions throughout the Super League campaign.
Edwards and Gill both began their journey with the Wheelchair team through their love of sport with Gill saying: “I went to an appointment with a physio through pain management and I was looking at ways to get back involved with sport.
“The physio had seen the wheelchair team at one of Hull FC’s first team games after contacting Mike and after going to my first session, I never looked back.”
Edwards, added: “I had an injury playing the running game which stopped me playing, and during my recovery process I found some walking rugby sessions which I thought I would use as part of my rehabilitation.”
“On the same nights, Mike was running the wheelchair sessions in the sports hall and I ended up getting involved with the team and sport that way, and since then I have never looked back.”
The development team has played a major role in the success of the wheelchair first team, with Edwards continuing: “It started out with some light introductory sessions with a small number of participants and from this I have seen the sessions grow week on week.
“My own role in the development team has gone from learning the sport to being able to share the little knowledge I have gained in the year I have been playing.
Gill also said: “I have played with and against a number of people with a range of ages and levels of disabilities. We have played against a few other development teams and played in the Challenge Trophy this year.”
Both players have found the jump from the development team to Super League a learning curve with Gill saying: “Players are fitter and faster with a great amount of experience making the step up from development a big learning curve.
“The work rate is a lot more intense meaning you have to work on your own fitness and ability to read the game as a small gap in the defensive line is all a player needs to break through.”
Edwards agreed, adding: “In Super League, the level between all the teams is high so it is always a learning curve and everyone has to do their bit.
“I have enjoyed playing at this level as I am always learning from watching other teams but also, I am able to see my own development game on game.
Edwards and Gill are both confident that both their team and individual successes with Hull FC’s Wheelchair team can be replicated in the future by fellow fans and players.
“For the future of the team, I hope for our continued development as a unit moving forward with everyone wanting to achieve the same goal,” Edwards said.
“For the future of individual players, I do think people can work their way from the development side to the first team to play in the Super League if they are coming to our sessions and putting in the work.”
Gill added: “In the coming years I hope that the wheelchair team continues to grow and each season we improve on the previous and eventually start to challenge for silverware.
“With a lot of dedication and hard work anyone can replicate my journey to play in the top league in Wheelchair Rugby League and even go further!”
“I would encourage anyone, no matter your age or ability, to give Wheelchair Rugby League a try as it has been so rewarding for me especially to my physical and mental health.”