Cornwall RLFC have secured the services of prop Jack Ray for the upcoming Betfred League 1 campaign, which begins one month today for the Choughs.
The 23-year-old started his rugby career at his local club Oulton Raiders before joining the academy set-up at Super League side Castleford Tigers.
Ray remained at the Jungle until 2019 when he joined Championship outfit Dewsbury Rams. During the 2019 campaign, Ray spent time on loan at Coventry Bears, a League 1 side who for this year have rebranded as Midlands Hurricanes.
Before the covid-19 pandemic struck, Ray had moved to Hunslet but owing to the 2020 season being declared null and void at every level below Super League, Ray’s stay at the South Leeds Stadium was cut short.
He then left Yorkshire to embark on a different career path in the forces and is currently stationed in Cornwall.
“After what’s been going on over the past couple of years and having time out of the game at a professional level, I will try and pick up where I left off to help this team,” he told cornwallrlfc.co.uk.
“I thought when Covid hit that my rugby league days over by moving down to Cornwall. But when a club like this opens up 20 minutes from where I’m staying, it is a massive opportunity and too good to miss. I will be going out there and giving it everything.
“It is a brand-new challenge and everything starting off from the ground up is completely different to anything I’ve done before.
“It is good being out of the heartlands because we are a new package and no one will know what to expect from us. Hopefully we will shock a few people by starting the season strong and finish strong.”
Meanwhile, Cornwall head coach Neil Kelly said Ray’s previous rugby league experience and his location in the Duchy means it made ‘perfect sense’ for the Castleford born man to join the Choughs.
“It was a no-brainer to sign Jack,” revealed Kelly. “He is a player that has been raised in the rugby league heartlands. He came through a very good academy set-up at Castleford and he has also gained experience playing in the Championship and League 1.
“When I found out that he was now based in Cornwall, it made perfect sense for Jack to join us. We can help him get his career started again and his experience, by being able to play anywhere in the pack, will be invaluable during the season.
“In Jack’s case, like the rest of our forwards, I will almost be asking them to take the numbers off their backs and play anywhere in the pack. Apart from the hooking position, our forwards will need to be versatile and adding Jack to the squad strengthens that no end.”
Further commenting on Ray’s arrival at the Memorial Ground, Cornwall RLFC general manager Gareth Reid added:
“I am very happy to have Jack join the squad for the season ahead. He comes from a strong rugby league background having gone through the Castleford Tigers’ academy pathway before spending some time at both a League 1 and Championship level.”
“His experience will no doubt prove invaluable to the squad and I expect he will play a big part in the team this year.”
“No brainer. Player that has been bought up in rugby league. Academy and Championship. How lucky is that he’s.
“Given we are a new club, with a new team. Forwards need to take numbers off their backs.