TEENAGE second row John Wells has only been at Fylde RUFC for a few months but already he is part of a squad pushing for the National League Two North title – and he’s aiming for a Twickenham place as well.
Wells, who has been thrust into the Fylde first team following an injury to lock Nick King, is among a number of young Fylde players who have earned their place in the successful Lancashire under-20 side, whose ultimate goal is to reach the county final at the home of rugby this spring.
While Fylde prepare to protect their handsome, 22-point lead at the head of affairs at Huddersfield tomorrow, Wells also has his sights fixed on the northern group county decider on Sunday week, when Lancashire take on Yorkshire at Hull in which a match that will decide the northern champions.
The winners will go through to the national semi-final, just 80 minutes from Twickenham.
Far from being fazed by the workload, Wells is relishing the responsibility.
He had been with Preston Grasshoppers since he was nine and was still at Lightfoot Green until last summer, when he decided to make the switch to the Woodlands.
Wells, 19, said: “I played for the Fylde second team at the beginning of the season. An injury came along (to King) and I stepped up. Hopefully, I am doing a good job.
“I did pre-season at Preston but fancied a change and I have not regretted it at all.
“It is a fantastic experience and I’m learning from experienced players like Paul Arnold.
“It is an excellent team to play in because of the potential we have.”
Wells, a former Myerscough College student, was in the Fylde starting line-up that beat Caldy by 55-29 (nine tries to four) last Saturday, and it says something about the standards demanded at the club these days that even a raw teenager recognised flaws in the performance to be rectified.
He said: “Most of the lads were disappointed in the changing room because of the expectation in the team. Obviously it wasn’t a smooth performance – and we want more as a team.
“Nine tries are nine tries but you have to defend to win and the defence was not as sharp in places, even though our attack was.
“Now we are top of the league and pushing for promotion, we want to tweak every bit of our game to get the best out of ourselves. We just strive to get better every game.”
Wells has two big dates ringed in his diary for next weekend, when Fylde play his old team Preston 24 hours before the Roses match.
He added: “Club rugby will come first for me because there will be other players at county level who can fill in my spot if necessary.
“If Fylde put me, in I will play at Preston and I will give it my all on Sunday as well, if asked.”
Wells is taking a gap year before attending Leeds University, adding of his future plans: “I will be playing for Fylde for sure.”
n WELLS makes way for Nick King as the experienced lock returns after injury at Huddersfield.
Coach Mark Nelson said: “Wells has had a good run but we are going for King as we will need his physicality. It will be an exceptionally tough game – last Saturday Huddersfield beat Luctonians, who have beaten us this season.
“Wells is one of a number of good young players we have coming through.”
In the absence of Jason Robinson, Martin Wallwork plays at full-back, with Craig Aikman at scrum-half.
Centre Stephen Briers has been ruled out and is replaced by Richard Kenyon, who switches from fly-half after scoring a hat-trick against Caldy last Saturday.
Nelson said: “Briers has a groin injury and if we risked him tomorrow he could be ruled out for the rest of the season.”
Pete Altham starts up front, with Tom Lavelle on the bench.
Steve McGinnis is not available but should be OK for the derby at Preston a week tomorrow, when Josh Beaumont could also feature.
Fylde: Wallwork; Royle, Kenyon, Waywell, Brennand; Collins, Aikman; Livesey, Roddam, Altham, Arnold, King, Ferguson, Stephenson, S Beaumont. Replacements: Lavelle, Holmes, Sutherland, McShane, Russell.