Academy graduate Danny Cowling has set his sights on a Super League breakthrough after a starring role in Wakefield Trinity Wildcats opening pre-season hit out.
Cowling – who turned 20 five days before Christmas – was pin-pointed by boss Richard Agar as one of Wildcats’ successes from the 40-26 Boxing Day defeat at Leeds Rhinos.
That could mark the beginning of a big 12 months for Cowling, who played one Super League game last year and also scored five tries in 11 appearances during a dual-registration spell with Co-op Championship One champions Doncaster.
Cowling made his Wildcats debut in last season’s dramatic last-gasp home win over St Helens and signed a new one-year contract two months ago.
“I will be back at Doncaster if I can’t get in the Wakefield team,” Cowling confirmed. “But anyone wants to play regular first-team rugby, that’s why we do what we do.
“Hopefully I can break through. It just takes one injury or one ban, then we’ll see how I go.
“Being at Doncaster last season definitely helped. It was a great experience going there and winning the title.
“The physicality prepared me for Boxing Day and the game I played for Wakefield last year.”
Agar was particularly pleased with Cowling’s quick-thinking which created a try for Richard Mathers in the second half of Wednesday’s game.
The youngster – a former Featherstone Lions junior – made the most of a new advantage rule, kicking ahead for the full-back to collect and touch down after Rhinos had knocked-on.
The law change means if a team knock-on, the other side can carry on to the next tackle – effectively have a free play – to see if an advantage is gained.
Cowling said: “We’d been saying all week if we get a knock-on, all bets are off – just do what we can. It was worth a go and it paid off. I think that’s a good rule.”
Despite the defeat, Cowling – whose specialist role is in the centres – reckons Wildcats will be better for their first pre-season game.
“It was a good hit-out,” he said. “The result wasn’t what we wanted, but we’ve got plenty of areas to work on and we can see that what we’ve been doing in pre-season and the time we’ve spent on the training field has paid off in some areas.
“It also gives us an idea of what we need to work on in training and what we need to improve.”
Wildcats will jet to Portugal early next month for a week-long warm weather training camp and Cowling reckons that will be a key part of their preparations.
“We can go there with a guarantee of good weather,” he said. “We’ll be able to get some really good training in and lift our intensity another level.
“It will benefit us getting on some good pitches and knowing we can do in training what we need to do.”
Agar believes Cowling has the potential to make an impact in Super League.
“I was really happy with the 25 minutes he had [on Wednesday],” Agar said.
“He had to fill in a bit in the back-row, but he was one of the positives for me.
“He really held his own defensively and came up with a great piece of inventive thinking for Richie’s try.
“He did good, he put his best foot forward.”