AS LIVERPOOL St Helens approach the first blank week in North One West in second place, having lost just one of their ten games, there is every reason for everyone at Moss Lane to look forward to the rest of the campaign.
The current form is down to many factors one of which is the presence in the first XV squad of six undergraduates, five from the University of Liverpool. Aside from the obvious raising of educational standards and banter in the LSH dressing room the influx of young and innovative talent has had a significant effect on the team.
Flanker Jamie Clare, in the third year of a Medicine degree at Keele University, has led the way and is now in his fourth full season at Moss Lane. The 21-year-old from Widnes learnt his craft through the third and second XVs and is now an integral component of the impressive LSH pack.
Jamie is joined in the squad by three more Doctors in training, Matt Gaines, Paul McLindon and Sean Mackin. Gaines arrived last year and quickly laid claim to the number nine shirt which he has worn in every game this season. The Sheffield born scrum half has quickly formed an effective partnership with fly half Greg Smith.
Local lad Paul McLindon came down to Moss Lane “looking for a game” after his studies had led to a break in a rugby career with Sale Sharks and a place in the England Development Academy. Now in the third year of his degree and on placement at Alder Hey Hospital, the 22-year-old centre has made a big impression.
And number 8 Sean Mackin, another medic, has quickly become a Moss Lane favourite with his appetite for carrying the ball and his non-stop workload.
In contrast to his medical colleagues 22-year-old Josh Grant-Butler is in the final year of an Ancient History and Archaeology degree. Originally from Tooting in South London, Josh arrived at LSH last season and has now established himself as an ever-present prop.
The academic sextet is completed by 18-year-old Guy Kingsley-Smith, in the first year of a Medical Science degree at Liverpool. A very promising fly half, Guy has proved to be an effective replacement as a utility back.