Jersey Reds junior Doolan hooks pro deal
ISLAND teenager Harry Doolan has been awarded a four-year professional contract with Jersey Reds.
The 18-year-old hooker has progressed through the youth system at St Peter since the age of 12 and last season became a regular for Myles Landick’s Jersey Athletic team – before Covid-19 lockdown brought the Raging Bull Shield campaign to a premature end.
The former Les Quennevais pupil now has an eye on game time for Harvey Biljon’s first XV once competitive rugby is up and running again, although he understands his primary focus is developing his game on the training ground with new forwards coach Rob Webber, an ex-hooker himself who won 16 caps for England.
‘I was so excited. When I got it, it was just amazing.’ said Doolan about his contract.
‘I just want to try and learn as much as I can from Rob, especially at set-pieces. I want to improve myself as a player, try to pressure for a start but I think this season will be a more developmental season for me.’
Doolan only turned 18 in January and, until then, was unable to play senior rugby in his preferable position in the front row – or indeed train in full-contact. But he showed enough qualities to be awarded an elite deal and director of rugby Biljon has been effusive in his praise. The South African expressed excitement at being able to give another home-grown player a big chance.
‘He’s stood out these past couple of years, coming through the age groups and closely working with Mylo [Landick] and he became someone to look out for,’ said Biljon.
‘He got the opportunity to train with us this season. He couldn’t take part in a lot of the contact stuff because of his age but he showed a work ethic and a desire and determination to really want to stand out.
‘When you talk to Harry you understand how important and how much he enjoys his rugby and his desire to want to be a professional and to play for Jersey Reds. And then you look at it from the professional aspect, he’s definitely got the raw materials to be able to be a professional rugby player and that’s what I think is so exciting to see a young local lad get that opportunity.
‘I think he will only grow over the coming years. For one, he’s going to be in that professional environment. For two, to learn how to be a professional on and off the field, so he understands all sides of the game and his role and responsibilities as a player.’
‘Professional sport is so tough to be involved in. There are millions and millions of people who do not get this opportunity but I think Harry’s good enough and I think it’s great to get someone from Jersey who’s going to be fighting for a position on the team. Although he’s a development player to be seen on the park in years to come rather than this coming season, don’t be surprised if you see him out there because of his determination to want to go out there and do well.
Biljon added: ‘There’s no better person to learn from [than Webber], especially from someone who played on the front row. Rob’s played at the highest level. He’s been an England international. We have spoke about Harry ... we’ve told him that Harry is a great young man and I think he’s going to want to absorb as much as he can from Rob and learn, so when he gets his chance with the Reds he will do well.’
Doolan follows in the footsteps of other former juniors to have been invited to join Jersey’s professional squad in recent seasons, including the likes of James Voss, Harrison Berresford and George Wilmott.
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