LIFE has turned full circle in the last 12 months for Alex Walmsley – and he must still be wondering whether it is just a dream from which he will awaken any moment now.
But the reality of the situation is that the up-and-coming former Batley Bulldogs’ prop is on the threshold of a top level career with St Helens – one of the world’s most famous rugby league clubs.
“I simply can’t wait to pull on a Saints’ shirt for the first time and hopefully that will be on Friday night when we play Huddersfield Giants at Langtree Park in a pre-season friendly,” said the 22-year-old.
Walmsley’s route to top, however, started in more mundane surroundings – joining the Dewbury Celtic under 12s set up and eventually progressing to their National Conference senior side.
He also played student rugby league but it was his move to Co-operative Championship club Batley which led to Super League clubs closely monitoring his potential before Saints took what is a calculated gamble by signing him on a three-year deal.
“I am by far the finished article but I’m hoping playing for Saints will make me a far better player,” said Walmsley, who will also be available to his former club as he has signed dual registration forms.
Neither has his enthusiasm to learn gone unnoticed by new head coach Nathan Brown during pre-season training.
Brown said: “Since his arrival, Alex’s work ethic cannot be faulted.
“He has only previously played a little part-time footie but he has already impressed people at the club by his attitude.”
So, too, has Saints two other major signings, centre Jordan Turner and powerhouse forward Willie Manu, who were team-mates at Hull FC last season.
Both have added an extra dimension to the squad and will be hoping to play a key role in securing the club’s first piece of silverware since winning the Challenge Cup and League Leaders’ Shield in 2008.