JORDAN Aitchison admits his try-scoring home debut at home to London Skolars was a long time coming.

‘Aitch’ came through the ranks at the Cougars from a young age as both a Cougar Cub and then the club’s reserves team. Since turning 16, he has spent the past decade waiting for the opportunity either side of his season with the Hemel Stags.

Signing his first professional deal for the club on the same day of Josh Lynam, who has recently been awarded a testimonial, it has been a case of playing the waiting game.

And despite being behind a number of half-backs over the years, serving as the apprentice to Benn Hardcastle and Jack Miller at the start of this season finally provided rewards.

The hard work and patience paid off as Aitchison made a man of the match debut at Oldham in the game prior to the Skolars one.

He is now looking to produce more performances like that over the remainder of the season and beyond.

“I was happy to finally get my shot and it was a good debut for me,” admitted Aitchison.

“I’ve waited a long time to make my debut for my hometown club and it was great to finally get that chance at Oldham.

“I’ve played for the reserves over the years, even after taking a bit of time out of the game, but Rhys (Lovegrove), who is a great coach, is now keen on pushing me and more of the reserves through.

“I’m picking a lot up from Rhys and especially Benny and Jack too because they’re two great halves to be working with.

“My goal now is to push on for the rest of the season and hopefully get a few more shots, cement my place in the team under Rhys and see how I go.”

Aitchison believes his grounding in the reserve system at Keighley has served him well - and reckons those without one are missing out.

“It should be mandatory for all clubs to have to run a reserve grade,” he said.

“Keighley are the example of how a reserve grade works, we’ve produced a number of players over the years that have come through the system and it showed again at Oldham when I was one of six in the 17 with Cain (Crotty) and Josh (Lynam) also in the 19 man squad.

“It’s a huge thing is the reserves grade. It keeps the professional clubs in touch with the grassroots and amateur game and brings players from there up into the ranks.

“We prove this week in and week out at Keighley because we keep getting shots at the first team and playing against Super League and Championship clubs. It shows with all the different players that are coming through at the clubs who do run a reserves grade.

“People like Dean Muir and Frank Levy have stuck by me over the years and have let me come back into the system when I’ve taken time off or gone elsewhere and without people like them I wouldn’t be playing, let alone getting my first team debut."