SAM Dowsett has credited the influence of Dave Clark and Dean Marwood as key in helping Askam’s players earn recognition both in the county and beyond this year.

Former Barrow Raiders player and coach Clark took charge of the Villagers for the 2018 National Conference League Division Two season following long-serving boss Mike Wilson’s decision to return to playing, bringing another ex-Barrow player in Marwood with him as assistant.

Askam had Mark Tyson and Tom Hopkins chosen to tour Fiji with the BARLA Lions at the end of the season, while Russ Bolton, Adam Jackson, Liam Saunders, Keir Shepherd and Zac Steel all represented Cumbria in the Three Counties Series at either open-age or under-19 level.

Dowsett and Tom Wilkinson have both signed professional terms with Whitehaven for the 2019 League One season too, and the goal-kicking hooker is in no doubt Clark and Marwood have helped Askam’s players develop.

“This year with Clarky being down and Dean Marwood being down a training, it’s just driving on the lads we’ve got here,” said Dowsett.

“It’s driving them to actually want to go onto succeed and the younger lads coming through are succeeding. They’re already hitting the gym for next year and making sure they’re ready for the start of the year, and it’s nice to have those lads who are eager to fight for the club.

“Even the more experience players like Tom Hopkins, Mark and Kristian Tyson, and Russ Bolton, you’re getting those quality players down.

“There were two on the BARLA tour in Fiji this year and lads who’ve been with Cumbria, and the experienced players who are driving the club, it all comes from the coaching and the things that are getting brought down week in, week out.”

This will be Dowsett’s second stint playing professional rugby, having been forced to cut short a spell with Workington Town in 2017 due to work commitments.

But it will be fellow Askam graduate Wilkinson’s first experience of the professional environment and Dowsett hopes he can pass on some of his own experiences to the loose forward.

He is also looking forward to having a familiar face travelling up to Whitehaven with him.

“It always helps,” said Dowsett. “Once you’ve got someone you’re travelling up with and training with, you’re in with the lads and having a craic.

“With it being Wilko’s first year going into the professional game, it’s me wanting to give him a bit of support and that little bit of confidence going into the game itself.”