Flanker Fulford to make his league debut for Keighley

Keighley News: Graeme Sheffield Graeme Sheffield

No-one will be trying harder for promotion-chasing Keighley on Saturday than flanker Joel Fulford.

The 17-year-old, who made his first-team debut against Bradford & Bingley in the Peter Harrison Memorial Match at Christmas, has been named in the side for the must-win league game at Huddersfield YMCA.

Keighley’s director of rugby Graeme Sheffield, whose side need to triumph in their last five games as they bid to get out of Yorkshire One, said: “Joel, who has come through our colts, is rugby mad.

“We put him on as a replacement against Bradford & Bingley and he was impressive. He has also done well in several other opportunities.

“It is great for him to play in the back row with such players as Scott Dyson, Leigh Sugden, Dave Pullen and Stuart Inman.”

Sheffield added: “When Joel was given his stash of first-team equipment, he asked me if he had to pay for it! He is a down-to-earth lad and his attitude is refreshing.

“His promotion is another example of how our excellent youth system is producing players for the first team, and last Sunday’s Festival, with hundreds of kids down at Keighley, was another pleasing example of what they do.”

Fulford’s latest opportunity comes because hooker Will Armitage is unavailable, Dave Pullen moving up from the back row to replace him.

With Paul Sinfield also unavailable, George Fletcher comes onto the bench as a prop replacement. Clem McDowell pulled a hamstring during the warm-up last weekend, so Danny Lester is also on the bench.

Sheffield said of Keighley’s league schedule: “As Dave Lister commented the other week, we need to win our last six, so it is one down and five to go as we aim to reach the play-offs.

“We should win at YMCA but only if our attitude is right.

“If our attitude is wrong, then anything could happen.

“But other teams around us are going to drop points as they have to play each other.”

Keighley’s 46-29 victory at home to Pontefract last Saturday brought a welcome five league points after their nightmarish afternoon the previous weekend when they controversially lost 18-17 at home to Bridlington.

Sheffield said: “The players had a good chat last Thursday night with Dave (Lister), Kevin (Young) and Tim (Brunskill) and it was very positive.

“But we know that our promotion not only depends on us winning our last six matches but also on other results going our way – but it is possible.

“Driffield beat Castleford 104-0 last weekend but Heath beat Bridlington 28-15.”

Sheffield called last weekend’s victory “patchy” and added: “Our defence was not quite as good as it has been.

“The last time we let in so many tries was against Malton & Norton last season but we never felt we were going to lose.”

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