Castleford heroes aim to guide and develop future stars

Ryan Hudson (left) and Danny Orr (right) pictured with current Rugby League stars Craig Huby and James Clare plus youngsters Jack Hudson and Iwan Orr at an Elite Academy session. (p319d324)
Ryan Hudson (left) and Danny Orr (right) pictured with current Rugby League stars Craig Huby and James Clare plus youngsters Jack Hudson and Iwan Orr at an Elite Academy session. (p319d324)

Danny Orr and Ryan Hudson’s successful Elite Rugby Academy is looking to help youngsters take the next step towards a professional career with the launching of a school of excellence.

The Super League club coaches and former Castleford Tigers stars are continuing to nurture fledgling talent through their sessions that take place four times a week in Castleford and Pontefract, but from next month will be additionally creating their Elite Rugby Academy school of excellence.

This will involve them selecting children from the weekly sessions who are from school year 7 and above to join a group given specialist training with the aim of taking the youngsters to the next level in their development as rugby league players.

“Our aim is to provide a working environment that is close to that of a professional rugby league player,” explained Danny Orr.

“The children and parents will be educated on nutrition, fitness, decision making and goal setting.

“We feel that this would be a huge learning tool for the kids who have ambitions to go into scholarships at professional RL clubs in the coming years.”

The first school of excellence is set to meet up at Snozone, at Xscape on Saturday, February 21 once invitations have been sent out to players considered good candidates.

Danny said: “We coach a lot of children weekly and the idea is to hand pick a certain few kids who we feel could go on to be professional.

“It doesn’t mean obviously that they will be, but they have got something about them.

“We want to give them an insight on what it’s like as a professional player. We’ll be giving them certain sessions they won’t have seen before.

“Just things that can hopefully put the youngsters on the right track for maybe putting them forward into a scholarship, into an academy and ultimately becoming a full-time professional player.

“We are going to pick a few from the Elite Academy. Just because they get in doesn’t mean they cannot be dropped out, it goes on attitude and willingness to want to learn. Certain criteria that me and Ryan have got in mind and if they don’t meet expectations we might move them out and might move another kid in.

“It’s not going to be a nice easy ride for them, they are going to have to work hard and keep up the good standards they have set.

“There are certain things we can’t do at the academy because there’s children there of different levels and different abilities. With the school of excellence we like to think that a lot of the kids are going to be at the same level so we will be able to give them a few extra things which are going to test them. Hopefully it will improve their skills.

“We will be educating the youngsters in training and how their bodies are going to be developing over the next couple of years. We’ve got a good list of things that we feel that can really help them out.

“It will be just one session a month to start with and we will see how it goes from there.”

Danny and Ryan believe they have already identified a number of youngsters at the Elite Academy who look like they may have what it takes to go to the next level.

Danny said: Obviously the kids who will be put forward will be from the Elite Academy and we’ve been monitoring it for over two years now.

“In the last couple of months since we’ve had this school of excellence plan as coaches we’ve been ticking off saying he’d be good, he’d be good, he’d be right and don’t think he’d be right, that sort of thing. We’ve got our heads together and come up with a list. We’re going to put letters out to those children. It might be that none of them want to come, it might be that they all want to come, we don’t know.

“But there’s some really good kids at the academy and we want to increase their potential and hopefully develop them into possible professional players.

“Some might go to Castleford, some to Wakefield or Leeds we don’t know, but if we can just give them a step on the ladder and help them in the right direction then that’s what it’s about.

“Whether it would be Castleford first choice, I don’t know. I’ve got an eye on them all, but so has Ryan and obviously he’s with Wakefield now.”

Danny is pleased with the way the Elite Academy has taken off.

He added: “We’ve been going over two years now and we’ve expanded from starting with two days to four days a week.

“We started on two hours a night and we’re now onto three hours for some of the nights.

“Our Monday and Thursday sessions are full and we can’t really take any more children on those nights. Tuesday and Wednesday nights have still got some space and if any new kids come along we try to direct them to those nights.

“Tuesday night’s sessions are at Kings School, Pontefract, and starts at 5.30pm for the first age group. Wednesday it is at Airedale High.

“All the details are on our website at”