Interim Huddersfield Giants coach Chris Thorman is predicting the brightest of futures for teenage centre Jacob Wardle.
The 19-year-old marked his Super League debut by scoring two tries and then earning a second-half spell in the sin-bin as Huddersfield moved up to ninth in the table with their 28-18 home win over fellow strugglers Widnes Vikings.
Sam Wood, Ukuma Ta’ai and Alex Mellor also crossed for the hosts and Wood landed four conversions as the Giants secured just their third victory of the season.
But it was Wardle, the younger brother of former Giant and current Castleford star Joe, who caught the eye on the night, with Thorman full of praise for the youngster before he hands the coaching reins on to new Aussie boss Simon Woolford next week.
“He’s going to be some player,” predicted Thorman.
“He scored a couple of good tries, he showed some really nice touches and was a little unfortunate to get sin-binned at the end.
“But I wasn’t in the least bit surprised with the way he went. He really does have the ability to do whatever he wants.
“We’ve all seen what his brother Joe can do, but he’d be the first to admit that Jake is the better brother rugby-wise.
“We shouldn’t also forget, of course, that we had another 19-year-old on Super League debut in Oliver Russell, who I thought was as composed and as astute as an Academy half-back could be on stepping up to Super League level.
“I thought Ollie and Jake showed the way ahead, and they were then backed up by some significant contributions from some of the senior boys.
“So, overall, I thought we deserved the win, particularly as our goalline defence was as good as it’s been.
“As a result, it was pretty emotional in the changing rooms at the end, and it’s certainly good to be handing over to Simon on the back of a win.”
Thorman’s emotions were in stark contrast to Widnes boss Denis Betts, whose side remained in the hunt throughout after tries from Danny Craven, Ryan Ince and Tom Gilmore, who also landed three conversions.
An honest Betts admitted his side deserved nothing from the game.
“There’s no excuse for the level of ineptitude we saw from our players out there,” said a frustrated Betts.
“We were just dumb and there was no guile out there at all. Anxiety got the better of us, and Huddersfield thoroughly deserved the win.
“I generally stick up for my players, but that was just woeful, awful. And it has nothing to do with injuries or anything like that, because Huddersfield are in the same boat.
“At the end of the day, they were rubbish, we were rubbish, that’s how bad the game was.”