Throughout the course of November 2017 GRLA’s Czech Republic rugby league contingent, Tonda Berk and Daniel Vesely (both 17 years old) joined in open trial training with Keighley Cougars Reserve Grade squad as they began their preseason training programme. Keighley Cougars are a semi-professional League 1 Club in the UK – 2 leagues below Super League. It was a huge experience for both these players as they were involved in training with existing members of Keighley Cougars Reserves squad, therefore allowing them to learn from experienced rugby league players who are pushing through the semi-professional ranks. The Czech lads really impressed the Cougars coaching staff with their attitude and dedication with Danny, in particular, surprising many with his sheering pace when he went the length of the field for a try in a trial match! Both Danny and Tonda, who both confessed to perhaps being the only Czech Republic RL players to experience such environments, took part in a variety of fitness, ball handling/decision making and defensive drills, as well as trial matches.
It was a great experience for both players; Tonda stating that ‘it was a good experience for me because it was my first sessions with a semi-pro team. I think that I learned to find more space and see the game more… [Every] training in rugby league in England is good for me because here is different kind of rugby league [to the Czech Republic]. It is quicker.’
Daniel echoed that the experience with Keighley Cougars was positive, saying that ‘it was nice because we have met new guys and a new team. We learned some new drills and skills and learned how to improve certainly parts of our rugby league development. The best was that we had the opportunity to train with older players which are [of a] high level of rugby league and see how these clubs train and play.’
Daniel added ‘This experience helped me grow as a player. The best skills was tackles for me and 2 vs 1 and 3 vs 2 situations and also it helped me with my English and communication because I met new people and I had to communicate with them on the field. The biggest difference for me was that everything was a lot of faster [than I was used too].’
In other GRLA news, Jack Stevenson and Myles Harrop have started training with Halifax RLFC Reserve Grade squad! Keep checking out the website for further updates on their progress!