TOM AINSWORTH is already relishing his life as a full-back with Huddersfield in National III North.
But the Reading-born utility back has admitted: “I want to be our star scrum half!”
The 20-year-old has alternated between full-back and scrum half throughout his junior rugby career, which started at Lockwood Park as a 10-year-old.
And he’s already donned the No15 and No9 shirts in the first team with some distinction over the past two seasons.
However, with Damian Clayton now well established as the club’s senior scrum half, Ainsworth has been installed as the side’s last line of defence, coming in to fill the void left last season by departed Australian full-back Rob McClaren.
His performances in the home wins over Halifax and Macclesfield, as well as the battling away defeats at Fylde and Harrogate, have earned him widespread praise, and he’s happy with the way he’s adjusting to life at the highest level in Huddersfield’s history.
But until he’s had the chance to show what he can do at scrum half, he won’t be 100% happy.
“To be honest, I was a bit worried when we took the step up, because I didn’t know how I would handle it, particularly as I was going to have to play at full-back,” said Ainsworth, who moved to Huddersfield from Reading when he was four years old and was, in fact, in line to play at scrum half at home to Caldy today in the absence of the unavailable Clayton!
“I do enjoy playing there, but I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’d prefer to be playing at scrum half.
“Fortunately, I’ve been happy with the way I’ve played in my opening four games, and in that time my confidence has grown. Getting the early wins on the board has been the key to that.
“I now just hope I get the chance to play at scrum half at some stage in the not too distant future.
“People might think I’m waiting for Damian to call it a day before that happens, but that’s the last thing on my mind. I want to do it before then, whatever Damian might think!
“I know he’s probably well aware of that, and I’m sure he’s happy about it.
“They say that having competition for places in a team is the best way of bringing the very best out of you, and I hope that’s the case with Damian and me.
“There’s no doubt we all like to push each other in training, and I think that competitiveness within the squad is another reason why we’re doing so well.
“On top of that, the team spirit among the players is also fantastic, and that’s another factor that’s counting in our favour.
“We’ve been together as a squad for a couple of years now, and the bond between us is now stronger than ever. We’re prepared to battle as hard as we can for each other, which in tight games can make all the difference in the world.
“I think that was something that took us through against Macclesfield last Saturday (Huddersfield held on to edge a thriller 19-18).”
Although Ainsworth was born down south, he now feels he’s a 100% northerner and is proud to call Huddersfield home.
A former Shelley High School pupil, he first donned the famous Huddersfield rugby union shirt as a 10-year-old – the same year the club moved from Waterloo to the more palatial surroundings at Lockwood Park.
And he is proud of the progress his ‘hometown’ club have made in that time.
“When I first joined the club, they were playing in North III, or something similar to that,” he added.
“And it seemed that nearly every year after that they were celebrating a promotion!
“I always thought how fantastic it would be to one day be part of a first team that was promoted myself.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance last season when we won our play-off game. I was out with a knee injury at the time.
“But having coming up through the junior system, I think I was as proud as anyone that we’d done it.
“I just hope that it won’t be too long before I’m playing in a Huddersfield side that secures some more on-field success, either at full-back or scrum half!”