The Salford Red Devils recently upgraded youth academy player Connor Aspey’s contract to a professional one, with the intent of testing him at the Super League level in the near future.
However none of this would be possible without the help of loved ones throughout the years.
“I grew up in Wigan, my junior club was Hindley and I always played there growing up,” Aspey tells Everything Rugby League.
“My family were my biggest support but mostly my Dad, he would take me to all the training sessions and wouldn’t miss a game both home and away.”
In 2019, the hooker would join Salford’s Foundation Development Academy, where he would apply his trade alongside other up and comers and be moulded into a Super League player.
During his time at the academy Aspey would learn gain Rugby League knowledge from multiple sources, including a couple first team stars.
“During my time at the foundation development I was helped by a lot of the first team players when training with them. When I first started, Jackson Hastings was one of big characters in the team and he made me feel very welcome, he also gave me a lot of tips on the field. There was a few others who I became closer mates with like Jake Bibby and Derrell [Olpherts] who also helped me fit in.
“Another player was Logan Tomkins, with us both being dummy halves we did a lot of the same training and he would give me little tips here and there to help me progress and improve.”
Not long after being signed to the Foundation Development Academy, Aspey played a trial match for the first team against Swinton, and a year later would appear for the first team in a trial again, this time against the tried and tested Super League players from the Warrington Wolves.
He remembers both games clearly and felt content with his performance in both.
“My memories of the debut game were being in the changing room. It was my first experience of a professional environment.
“The moment I remember most from this game though was when mark Flanagan threw me an offload and I broke through and managed to draw the full back and pass to Derrell to score and get my first assist for the first team.
“In the game I played against Warrington I thought I did well for my first time against a full Super League level team. It was a big step up and I think I was consistent and made no mistakes.”
The game against Warrington would actually take place not long after the 18-year-old signed his first Super League contract with the Red Devils, which was a proud moment to say the least.
“I was so happy to sign my first contract with Salford Red Devils. I’ve work so hard all my life to get to a professional contract and to finally sign it was a surreal feeling.”
Aspey is ready to knuckle down for the next few seasons and repay Salford for the opportunity they have given him.
When looking into the long term future though, there is a certain “green machine” he wouldn’t mind playing for in Australia.
“I would love to play in the NRL it’s one of my biggest dreams and my favourite NRL team would be Canberra Raiders.”
Canberra currently have a world class English hooker at their club in Josh Hodgson, however when he retires the club may head back to England to find a hooker to replace him, and that player could very well be Connor Aspey.