Harrogate star Callum Irvine earns Doncaster Knights training chance

Callum Irvine heads into a tackle for Harrogate (Photo: Richard Bown)
Callum Irvine heads into a tackle for Harrogate (Photo: Richard Bown)

Harrogate playmaker Callum Irvine has been offered a chance to prove his worth at Championship level, but he will remain a ‘Gate player for the 2015/16 campaign.

Irvine has been scouted by professional outfit Doncaster Knights after guiding Harrogate to Yorkshire Cup glory and a share of third place in National Two North last season.

After four successful years at Harrogate, the 21-year-old fly-half says he does not want to have regrets in his career by missing opportunities to move to professional level.

Irvine said: “I want to see how far I can go.

“I have had two season where I have made playing for Harrogate a priority over everything, and I have loved every minute of that. It’s taken me two years to get to where I am now.

“By taking a step outside my comfort zone and having a taste of professional rugby, it can only make me a better player.”

He will begin training at the Knights in July and he will spend two days a week developing his skills in South Yorkshire.

However, he will continue to be available to Harrogate each weekend for the club’s first year at Rudding Lane.

Gate director of rugby Mike Aspinall said: “It’s the right move for him to continue to grow and to get outside of our environment a little bit as we are all he has ever known.

“At times it will be slightly different with him training at both clubs but I will do everything that it takes to manage that. Whilst I am very comfortable Cal is in the right place for his development, I think it will be good for him to experience another environment that will accelerate his growth as a person.

“But there’s no doubting that he will remain critical to what we want to achieve. But his decision magnifies the need to get somebody ready and waiting when he does leave.”

The natural replacement to Irvine would have been top points scorer Joe Rowntree, who Irvine grasped the number 10 jersey from last year.

However, the former club colt has decided to quit the Cockerels and move to Ilkley after complaining about a lack of first team opportunities.

Rowntree had been given a number of roles in the Harrogate back line last year, after being reverted to fly-half from scrum-half in the 2013/14 campaign.

With Rowntree departing, Aspinall has signed Leed s University student Charles Morgan – son of former Harrogate coach Rhys Morgan – who will act as cover to Irvine.

“Rhys obviously feels this is the right place for Charles to develop,” added Aspinall.

“He will be working hard to close that gap on Callum and push for a spot in the first team. Callum has been great too, as he knows the club need to get someone ready to replace him.”