FLANKER Ben Vernon is rapidly making his mark with Fylde RFC and has already endured more than most players in his short career.
Vernon is only 20 but had to face up to the grim reality of a year-and-a-half spell out of the game when his future looked in real doubt.
In a real jolt to the system, the up-and-coming wing-forward was sidelined when he dislocated not one both shoulders, and it is to his credit that he battled back, with Fylde now reaping the benefit.
Vernon joined Fylde in the close season from junior club Tarleton. Asked if his career could be cut short at such a young age, long before his prime, he said: “Potentially, yes – it knocked my confidence.
“I was at Sale Jets as a youngster and I got a bad injury and dislocated both my shoulders. It meant 18 months out of the game, so playing for the Tarleton club was just to get me back into action and get my confidence back up. I was 17 when it happened.
“The injury happened over a period of years, with wear and tear, and eventually it just went.
“It was touch and go, and I didn’t know whether I was going to come back.”
Vernon arrived at the Woodlands with an excellent pedigree. He has played for England Counties, North and Lancashire under-20s as well as progressing to the Red Rose senior side, appearing in the County Championship final in the side coached by Mark Nelson.
Prior to that, the Hutton Grammar School product played for England under-16 and under-18.
It was been a big step-up to Fylde from playing for Tarleton in North Lancashire Division One, but Vernon has taken it in his stride, not entirely surprising, given his rugby pedigree.
He had an outstanding game for Fylde in Saturday’s 44-12 win over Cinderford, which all at the Woodlands club, including the young flanker, hope will be the springboard for a rise up the National League One table.
He said: “It has been a tough season so far and we have had some close games, so it was good to get a win under our belt and give Cinderford a thrashing.
“They thought they were going to come here and give us a good smashing, but this result has been coming for a few weeks. We have been slowly building.
“Against Cinderford it finally clicked and we got some good tries. We always knew we were a good side and would come through at the end.
“We had a good win in our first game of the season against Esher but it dipped from there. We had a win against Sedgley and came close against Ealing the week before the Cinderford game.”
Vernon harbours ambitions as he looks ahead to the rest of the season. “I want to get as much out of the game as I can and keep going,” he said.
Asked about the remainder of the campaign, Vernon has set his sights high, insisting: “Based on the performance against Cinderford, I think we can go all the way. The boys will get their confidence up and now we are away.”
n FYLDE winger Oli Brennand will notch up his 150th career appearance if he faces Cambridge on Saturday.
Yellow cards are proving costly for Saturday’s hosts, who were handed two more in the 30-10 defeat at Richmond on Saturday.
That took their overall tally for the season to a worrying 10, meaning their players have spent one hour, 40 minutes in the sin-bin in only seven matches.
Third-bottom Cambridge conceded two penalty tries in the defeat against Richmond after persistent technical offences at the scrums.