Thunder sign Clay ahead of Super 8s

Newcastle Thunder have strengthened their second row stocks ahead of Sunday’s Kingstone Press League 1 trip to Hunslet with the signing of Josh Clay until the end of the season.

A 19-year-old player originally from Huddersfield, Clay was one of a number of standout player’s in the Northumbria University squad that lifted the BUCS title in 2017 and becomes the eighth player from that squad to be part of the Thunder ranks.

In only his first year at University, he was able to break into a settled first team and make himself into a key part of the side that won the university title for the first time.

A strong defensive player with good communication skills, Clay can also link well with his outside backs with good ball handling and distribution skills.

Available for selection for Sunday’s game, the Newsome Panthers product is hoping his Thunder adventure will help him develop further as a player.

Detailing how the opportunity arose, Clay said: “Payney gave me a call and said the opportunity was more than open and when looking at it, there were no downsides to doing it for me.  It will help my game, help me for uni next year and improve me as a player.

“I chose Northumbria because I wanted to play rugby at a high standard and develop as a player, which has opened this up for me and hopefully I can help Thunder as well.”

With Stephen Snitch and Harry Aldous currently combining excellently in the second row berths, Clay acknowledges that he will have to work hard to earn his inclusion in the side, but is hopeful that competition will be to Thunder’s advantage.

“Competing with those lads for places I think is good, it means I’ll have to raise my standards even higher if I want to get into the team and that will help push to get us into the top five and get a chance at promotion.”

Speaking about his new addition, interim head coach Jason Payne says he has been massively impressed by Clay as part of the University squad and is backing him to make a similar impression with Thunder.

Payne said: “It was Josh’s first year at the university and he just came out of nowhere. He forced his way into the first team and I thought was one of our best performers.  He is immensely strong and runs with intent.

“I’ve brought him in mainly as cover for Harry and Stephen and to gain experience, but he has a chance to become part of the squad longer term too.