It seems strange to hear a coach so positive in a post-match press conference after a 62-0 defeat, however given Carl Forster’s Whitehaven side came up against a full-strength Widnes Vikings it is more than understandable.
The Cumbrian outfit’s player-coach couldn’t praise his young squad enough, as they never took a backwards step on a bitterly cold Friday night at the Select Security Stadium.
The League 1 club struggled to match their top flight opponents throughout, yet they did show some touches of class considering it was their first hit-out with 10 new names in their 17.
Despite the heavy score line Forster still remained upbeat, insisting that his men learnt a lot from their first trial game of 2018.
“It was always going to be tough,” he commented.
“We’re not used to that 3g speed and the Super League speed, and when they got a roll on they just marched us down the field.
“We have took a lot of heart from it, the score line isn’t flattering but we can take a lot from the game. We’re not going to play opposition like that all year.
“We have to work on a few things, like slowing the ruck down, but all credit to Widnes for showing us what a Super League team is like and we have learnt a lot of things tonight.”
— NothingButLeague 🏆 rugby league website 🏆 (@NothingButRL) January 12, 2018
Whitehaven can take a lot of heart out of their display, considering the number of debutants on show against an experienced Super League opponent.
“You can only see so much in training, it’s nice to run against bodies and get the contact.
“We’ve got 18 and 19 year-old lads there that have never played above their age, so to see them in action and not take a back step I was really pleased, and it’s all positives from tonight.
“To get dropped straight in against a Super League outfit, I thought it was a massive credit to them.
“We are a team that trains two or three times a week, and the conditions haven’t been great where we train.
“It’s probably the fourth or fifth time that we have ran as a thirteen in training, so there are plenty of positives to take.”
After Haven’s League 1 Promotion play-off final defeat to Barrow Raiders in 2017, Forster is looking to go one better this year.
That will be tough after losing two experienced half backs in Paul Crook and Steve Roper, however impressive performances from Brad Billsborough and Callum Phillips showed that the future is bright.
“Our aim has got to be promotion after such a good year last year,” the Whitehaven player-coach continued.
“I think we have added some real quality, we have lost some but I think we have replaced it.
“I think at the start of any season you have to go high in terms of your goals and I do believe it is achievable.
“We have lost two experienced half-backs and replaced them with youth. We’ve still got Dion Aiye to come back from PNG so we have three quality half-backs, and the more they play together the combinations will come.”