TWO of Dalton’s successful under-16s team have earned the opportunity to progress to the very top after being snapped up by Super League side St Helens.

Jack Stephenson and Evan Jones have both earned places in the club’s academy set-up after catching the eye of a scout while representing Barrow in their victory over West Cumbria in September’s county Origin match.

The pair have both enjoyed stand-out seasons for their club as well, playing important roles as Dalton won their league and carried off the county cup, despite being two of the younger members of the side.

Now Stephenson and Jones have the chance to make their way to the top of the professional game, and Dalton coach Dave High is delighted to see them earn a place in the Saints’ youth set-up.

“We’re really proud for the lads and they’ve done really well,” said High.

“They were at the bottom end of the under-16s who won the league and Cumbria Cup, and I’m really chuffed for the lads and their families – and it’s good for the club as well.

“They both started off on the wing because they are at the younger end and they were coming into a good side. Jack was absolutely flying, but then the opportunity came for him to play in the second row and he never looked back, and was named our most-improved player.

“Evan is the same; he’s not a winger, he’s a second-rower, but the opportunity came. He had a run in the centre as well and did absolutely great, so I’m really chuffed for them.”

In recent years, the likes of St Helens ace Morgan Knowles, plus former Saints forward Greg Richards, now with Leigh, and Leeds Rhinos’ Brad Singleton, have shown the opportunities with Super League clubs are out there for players from this area.

But while it requires taking a leap of faith, with Stephenson and Jones having to travel down to St Helens to train with the squad twice a week, it is so far proving well worth it for them, and High is pleased with what he has been hearing about how they are getting on.

“It’s nice to see scouts come up and look at the talent around here because we are out of the way and it’s easy to be overlooked,” said High.

“I’ve talked to the lads and the parents about training, and whether they do anything different to what we do at Dalton.

“They’ve said there’s nothing different whatsoever and even though they went in a bit later than the other lads going in, they’re miles fitter, their handling skills are good and everything was exactly the same as them. It was really nice to hear.

“It’s a big commitment for them, going twice a week, and there are no guarantees.

“But if you don’t take that chance then you’ll never know.”