MATTY Storton is happy to be the latest standard-bearer for the Bulls academy after making the step-up for the promotion run-in.

The 19-year-old second rower played the final five games as John Kear’s side clinched their return to the Championship.

The Keighley teenager is following in the footsteps of Ethan Ryan, Ross Oakes, Liam Kirk and Brandon Pickersgill as the Odsal production line keeps rolling.

Storton said: “It’s good for the young players to know there is that conveyor belt from the under-19s to the first team.

“Hopefully a couple more will be pushing for the first team next year. I think Olly (Wilson) will have a big year and get a lot of first-team experience as well.

“The club really believes in youth and that’s what is building now.

“Fans love to have those homegrown players coming through.

“John takes a real interest. He’s come to every under-19s game and watches us train.

“It’s good to have that pathway from the under-16s and 19s to the first team and John believes in that.”

After his debut in Toulouse last year, Storton made his first appearance of the season at West Wales at the start of last month and stayed in Kear’s 17, coming off the bench to make his mark in the play-off final win over Workington.

He added: “It’s been a really good year for me. We’ve done so much better in the under-19s and it was good to get my chance against West Wales.

“I think I proved myself and kept the shirt for the last five games, which was really pleasing. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.

“Now I’m looking forward to having a good pre-season and then getting stuck in. Hopefully we can push for the top five next year.”