At 27 years of age, Daryl Clark is one of rugby league’s most experienced hookers having already played 250 games in Super League and the Challenge Cup, whilst also representing England and Great Britain on ten occasions.
Growing up in Castleford, West Yorkshire, Clark has been surrounded by rugby league for his whole life with the game being played in the town for close to a century. The locals love the sport and are very passionate about the areas biggest sporting club, the Castleford Tigers.
“I was always a Cas fan growing up as it’s [Castleford] a small town and the only professional sports team we have in the area and the town in generally just love rugby league.
“I played from the age of seven at my local rugby club Redhill until the age of around 10, then the clubhouse got burnt down and for whatever reason, I can’t remember I didn’t pick it up again until I went to high school at the age of 12/13 and met new mates and stuff like that and ended up joining them at my other local rugby club Fryston Warriors,” Clark told Everything Rugby League.
During his early teenage years, Clark was scouted by the Tigers who he ended up signing for whilst still attending high school.
“I was scouted from my local club Fryston Warriors, after my first full season I think I was 14 and along with three or four other teammates who got scouted at the same time. It was Steve gill who was the head of youth at the time, he was the one who scouted me and signed me on a proper contract when I turned 16.”
Five years later at just 21-years-old, Clark would have a break out year winning the 2014 Young Player of the Year and the Man of Steel award for Super League’s best player. During the same year he was selected to make his international debut for England against Samoa during the Four Nations tournament down under.
“I had dreamed about playing for England and to get the call up early on in my career was amazing. To have the Four Nations tournament in Australia somewhere I had never been was really exciting for me at the time as well.
“My favourite memory has to be my debut against Samoa at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.”
A few months before the Four Nations tour, it was announced that he would be leaving the Castleford Tigers after the Warrington Wolves paid a £185,000 transfer fee to secure the Yorkshireman’s services for 2015 onwards, signing him to a four-year deal. He then recommitted to a new contract with Wolves in April 2019, extending his stay through to the end of 2023.
His time at the Wolves has seen him suffer many heartbreaking moments but that all changed last year when Warrington won the Challenge Cup after defeating long time rivals St Helens 18-4, with Clark taking home the coveted Lance Todd Trophy for man of the match.
“I lost two Grand Finals and three Challenge Cups in five years. I think it was so good to finally get over the line in the challenge cup at the 4th attempt.
“It was such a relief it was a pretty special day been able to lift the cup after walking past it 3 times and obviously it made it even more of a special day to win the Lance Todd trophy and have my name in a bit off rugby league history which made the wait worthwhile.”
After 158 games for The Wire and with many good years still ahead of him, the hooker has no plans on going anywhere else but understands like most other sports these days, Rugby League is a business.
“Warrington is a massive rugby league town, they really get behind the club and the fans are as vocal as any I’ve played in front of.
“I’ve got a few years left on my contract at Warrington and I’m happy here. They have been good to me over the years but I also understand circumstances can change. Over time new coaches, different player signings and form and all that kind off stuff so I would never say never.”
After missing out on selection in Wayne Bennett’s 2017 Rugby League World Cup team, Clark has since gone on to represent England at the World 9’s and Great Britain on the Lions Tour in 2019.
New England boss Shane Wane also selected him in his 2020 prospective Ashes Series squad due to play Australia in late October and early November (subject to change due to current events), so don’t be surprised if you see Josh Hodgson given a real run more his money for the starting hooker spot at the 2021 World Cup in England.