New boy Shaw set for League 1 schooling

With the first home game of the new Kingstone Press League 1 season bringing London Skolars to Kingston Park Stadium, a scholar of a different kind will be hoping to be part of the team and securing league points.

Tom Shaw is a Masters student at Northumbria University and one of nine new faces to the Thunder squad in 2017, with the former Siddal junior impressing on his first showing, scoring his first try for the club in the opening five minutes, in the 46-16 pre-season win over Whitehaven.

An undoubted talent, Shaw has been a key feature in the Team Northumbria side that has finished top of the BUCS Premier North league two seasons running and feels now is the time to test himself in the professional game and to give in to the encouragement from his university and now Thunder coach, Jason Payne.

“He has been at me a couple of times in the past asking if I wanted to come down to trial and see how things are, but I didn’t feel it were the right time for me. I’d just left Halifax and I wanted to take a step back and just focus on uni and on my personal game playing for them and proving myself in that team. It’s only now I’ve felt ready to come and to test myself in League 1.”

“I started just before Christmas and it has been class, I’ve really loved it. The training has been a real change in intensity from what you get at Uni, but once I’ve gotten used to it, I’ve really started to enjoy it.  You have to work a lot harder and that pushes you that bit more which is what you expect.”

Starting out at Siddal after being introduced to the game by a classmate and taken down to training by his dad, it was the start of a love for the game that saw Shaw progress through the ranks and into the age grade setups at Halifax, before heading North to study at Northumbria.

“I was at Siddal from when I was around six. One of my friends had been taken down by his dad so I got mine to take me along.

“I loved it straight away and I think it was probably the intensity of it, how close you get to other people through it and the friends that you make that appeal.

“The contact aspect makes it a bit more interesting to play and lets you push yourself more than you can in other sports and I think that was the thing that kept me there.

“At 16 I joined Oldham Under 18s and was there for a year before I moved back to Halifax and played with the Under 23s for a couple of years.

“Moving up here to study, it was just too hard to play there and have to come back down for training while I was up here at Uni and I was quite happy playing in the Team Northumbria side, so left Halifax.

Studying Sports Nutrition, before embarking on his Masters in strength and conditioning, the sporting arena has always been the focus for the exciting half-back, even if his ultimate career destination is something he has yet to settle on.

“I’ve never really had any interest in anything else other than sport, even at college.  I’m not really sure what I am going to do after uni, but so long as it has something to do with sport and team stuff I’ll be quite happy, but there is a lot of time to think about that.”

After agreeing his move over to Thunder for 2017, Shaw is one of seven players in the squad who have been part of the Team Northumbria set up in recent seasons, with the understanding honed between the players, proving to be a big help to the 23-year-old in settling into his new team.

“It’s nice to have a bit of familiarity with it, because I’ve played with some of the lads for three years, I know what they are about and how they play already and then it’s easier to mix in with the others when you already feel familiar with some of the other players who are here.

“It’s a nice feeling to be able to know that you can fit right in because you know some of the lads from playing with them from outside of this team.”

Having made an explosive start to his time in Thunder colours, it would be easy to get carried away, however, Shaw is keeping his aims modest for the year to come and is focusing on the collective goal of the club.

“I’ll just be happy to get as much game time as possible and push myself to see how I go in League 1.

“As a team, I think top eight is a minimum of what we need to be going for. I’ve spoken with a few of the lads from last year and they said that they underachieved by not making that last year, so I think that is a minimum target for the year.”